Placing The Correct Blame

Since I've posted my original blog about the idling of the paper machine at the Verso mill in Jay, Maine, I've looked at the articles in the Portland Press Herald again.

I'll do the conclusion before the idea. The paper industry deserves some of the blame for it's own downfall it's not just the politicians and policymakers that are responsible.

The article in the Herald which talks about the closure talks with a Verso executive that outlines some various reason(s) why this is happening. Specifically, he says, "free-trade agreements", foreign competition" and the one that I'm now questioning: "natural gas prices." Current Chart For Natural Gas Shows A Substantial Decline In Price Down From 7.500MMbtu

This isn't the best graphic but I think this demonstates why the statement about natural gas prices really doesn't hold much water. I'll put one caveat on this though, it's hard to predict where the futures prices might go including price spikes and volatility, which, might be what this executive is talking about with respect to natural gas prices. The decision to idle the machine might have actually happened in February 2014, which was near the height of the natural gas price spikes, I remember at the time reading in the Wall Street Journal that at least one analyst predicted "prices to 11.000Mmbtu." Wow!  

I still don't think that the politicians and policymakers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont did enough to slow the decline and fall of papermaking in northern New England. 

But the blame needs to be distributed fairly and to the responsible parties including the industry itself.