AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage told attendees Thursday at a conference on the future of the transportation industry that global warming could help Maine because the melting of the Arctic icecap has opened up northern shipping lanes.

The comments, part of his opening remarks for the conference at the Augusta Civic Center, were similar to points made by Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson in May at an international trade conference in South Portland. Grimsson said the polar shipping route would shorten the trip between China and Europe by 40 percent to 50 percent.

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Maine could be part of the route because, earlier this year, Icelandic shipping company Eimskip made Portland its only U.S. port of call.

LePage said recent years have been very difficult for the construction industry, but he thinks the state has turned a corner.

“I think with Eimskip coming to Maine, with all the good things happening – it used to be global warming, I think they call it climate change now – but there are a lot of opportunities that are developing,” LePage said.

Paul Koenig — 207-621-5663

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Twitter: @paul_koenig