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OUTSOURCING - G-P to build new machines, but not here

The Bangor Daily News is reporting today that while Georgia-Pacific is closing a mill in Maine, it's going to build two new machines at existing mills elsewhere in the US.

The new machines will produce toilet paper and paper towels, and need to be closer to the markets that are growing, in the south and southeast. We're not sure if this means Mainers use less TP and more cloth towels, or whether we just have a lower demand for paperwork.

But either way, it appears the problem was not that powering the mill was too expensive, as implied by a deal brokered by Governor John Baldacci that had the state give $26 million to G-P for its disgusting landfill near the mill, then lease the landfill to Casella Waste Systems for $26 million. With its new money, G-P bought a new boiler to generate electricity, but it has never been approved for actual use.

Instead, powering the mill was at best a dirty option that still would have had little effect on the economics of the paper industry, and in particular the cost of transporting "an incredibly bulky, fluffy thing that takes up a lot of space ... but not much weight," as one consultant told the BDN. So perhaps the second shutdown was unavoidable, and Baldacci's spending of the taxpayers' money was a delaying action in a losing battle.

Now the state - not G-P, mind you - is spearheading the charge for someone to buy the mill. Let's hope the buyer we find is not us.
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