WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, issued the following statement upon news of the planned closure of the Verso paper mill in Luke, Md.
“I am deeply saddened by the news that 675 hard-working local residents arrived to work today only to find out that their positions will be eliminated almost immediately. They deserved better, having built their lives and their community around working at the mill, and having been both flexible and resilient in the face of unfair foreign competition and during the recent spate of ownership changes at the mill in recent years. These workers – and many more in the timber, mining and shipping industries directly related to the mill’s operations – will now face extreme challenges. I will seek to ensure that all available federal resources be made available to those affected by the mill’s closure.
“Having for years worked cooperatively with the mill’s owners on trade and regulatory compliance issues, I am truly surprised that Verso did not notify any elected officials in advance of the planned closure. Without a doubt, we would have explored every possibility to keep the plant open.
“I am also particularly concerned about the status of water and sewer service in the Town of Luke, which had been provided by the mill. With public officials at all levels of government blind-sided by this move, no clear plan exists for the continuation of these critical services once the mill ceases its operations. This is an urgent threat to the public’s health and the region’s clean water. It is incumbent that corporate officials remain committed to working with the community to find an effective strategy to continue providing these basic services, and I will work closely with my fellow members of the Maryland congressional delegation to ensure that they do.”