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Monday January 23, 2012 | 04:04 PM

Maine lawmakers hailed news Monday that the Obama administration’s trade representative and Canada have agreed on a two-year extension of the current U.S.-Canada softwood lumber agreement, which has been in effect since 2006.

“A two-year extension of this historic and critical Softwood Lumber Agreement is welcome news, and provides Maine’s lumber industry with a modicum of certainty moving forward,” said Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, in a statement. “A return to the conditions prior to the agreement would be devastating for Maine lumber companies, who can compete with anybody when the conditions are equal.”

Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District, said that the agreement still must be enforced properly, charging that Canadian violations have hurt sawmills in Maine and elsewhere.

“The U.S. must do a better job of enforcement to make this extension a success,” Michaud said in a statement.

Snowe and GOP Sen. Susan Collins also said vigorous enforcement is the key to making sure Maine mills benefit from the agreement.

“While it remains necessary for the U.S. to continue to ensure that Canada actually complies with this important agreement, I do believe that the Softwood Lumber Agreement represents important progress in the overall trade relationship between the U.S. and Canada, and it is critical that this framework be extended,” Collins said in a statement.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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