LePage rightly opposes biomass subsidy bond
Maine lawmakers faced a crisis in 2016: Subsidize the biomass industry or see hundreds of jobs vanish.
It wasn’t much of a choice, following the shutdown of paper mills in Madison and Bucksport, which cratered demand for pulpwood. Gov. LePage reluctantly signed the $13.4 million bill, but last February he made clear that he wasn’t happy about it.
“They’re not putting any money into the plants,” LePage said of the biomass generators that benefited from the bailout. “They’re taking the subsidy and they’re going to sit on it for two years. And in two years they’re gonna come back and say, ‘Anymore subsidy, guys? If you don’t give us more subsidy we’re going to close.’ ”
Here in 2018, we see that the governor was right on the mark. Maine taxpayers are helping out-of-state companies buy wood chips that are burned to make electricity, which is then sold back to Maine people at higher-than-market rates. And now there is a bill before the Legislature requesting a $25 million bond to subsidize biomass infrastructure so this cycle can continue.
LePage is against it, and so are we. What was a crisis two years ago is now just the way things are. It’s time that Maine look to the future of how it will manage its forest, instead of clinging desperately to what has already been proven not to work.