There is an overly narrow and dangerous proposal working through the U.S. Department of Commerce with a very real potential of making access to your local newspaper and the valuable content more expensive and difficult to gather.

Furthermore, if successful, this could deal a deep and damaging blow to local democracy by placing a severe burden on community newspapers and their readers — the crucial tool many residents use to learn, share and gather trusted local information about their communities.

The commerce department has announced the initiation of “anti-dumping duty and countervailing duty” investigations of Canadian newsprint imports. The sole company seeking protection, North Pacific Paper Company, is owned by a New York-based hedge fund that operates only one mill in Longview, Wash.

The company is pushing for steep import duties in excess of 50 percent, and the petitions do not reflect the views of the paper industry in the United States.

In fact, they are opposed by other U.S. producers of newsprint and the American Forest and Paper Association.

If Canadian imports of uncoated ground-wood paper are subject to duties, prices in the newsprint market will be shocked and the supply chain could be disrupted, endangering the survival of some smaller community newspapers.

We bring this up for several reasons — first to reveal yet another example of the effectiveness of a narrow lobbying group in Washington. While this one hits close to home for you as a reader of The Daily News, it also underscores how a lobbying group representing a very small constituency — in this case one company with a narrow objective to use regulations or legislation to create an investment advantage for its single client — can broadly and negatively affect a wide range of innocent people or businesses.

This is the danger of unchecked lobbying in Washington.

Secondly, government powers should always strive to do good. Providing and protecting a level playing field while balancing the needs of a market is noble. But for government regulations or legislative activities to be used as a tool to serve the financial interests of a very select special interest group and create a severe competitive advantage is irresponsible and dangerous.

And thirdly, this is an example of your local newspaper bringing to light a proposed action about 1,400 miles away that could change your life if quietly implemented. This is what your local newspaper does — roots out events and issues for their communities.

This is a time of great transition in our nation. Democracy is based on a free-flowing exchange of credible and trustworthy information. Local newspapers are not big media companies with overreaching agendas. We walk the same streets as you, shop in the same grocery stores as you, and attend the same houses of worship. We work each day with a goal to earn your trust, provide vetted information, and call out the good, the bad and the ugly. And poll after poll shows the public still considers their local newspapers playing an important role in their gathering of local information. The action presented to the Commerce Department could radically change all of that for you.

Let’s not allow an overly narrow request from a New York-based investment firm to put a reckless and greedy wedge into democracy for the sake of a fistful of dollars.

• Leonard Woolsey

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207; leonard.woolsey@galvnews.com

President & Publisher of The Galveston County Daily News.

(16) comments

Kelly Naschke

Democracy is exactly what’s derailing the print media and newspapers in particular. Competition from cable tv and the internet has created a 24 hour news cycle that’s always on tap. The market for newspapers is shrinking. You aren’t pulling in new readers and the readers you do have is shrinking. The same liberal demographic that you pander and preach conservation to, sees the waste in generating TONS of a one time use newspaper. Your advertisers find more value in other means of advertising that more directly reaches their target markets. It’s also simple economics to understand the pricing in a commodity will rise as demand falls, as the paper mills struggle with a diminishing market. Even more importantly, you have incredible bias that permeates your industry from the top down ie. Washington Post & New York Times. Journalism in our country died with the election of Obama. The objectivity of reporting has been replaced with opinion and overt bias. You have allowed and contributed to the proliferation of FAKE NEWS. The fact that you can’t see the forest through the trees speaks volumes as to exactly why local newspapers have been dropping like flies. It’s amusing to listen to you whine about it though,

Gary Miller

Kelly! Free-flowing exchange of credible and trustworthy information? Not anymore. Lies and biased opinions replaced what used to be a honest industry.

Kelly Naschke

Even worse is that you have the nerve to NOT “buy American” and brag about it? Aren’t you the same guy that recently advocated shopping locally? Was that just more FAKE NEWS since the GDN doesn’t follow that advocation?

Ron Shelby

What this may do is create a solid market for recycled paper which will help drive prices back down. If you can't use recycled paper for your newspapers, chances are good it will drive some technology changes in the newspaper printing industry. It may not be as bad as you paint it. It just may take a little time to sort out.

Diane Turski

Lobbyists, who are working for wealthy corporations and today's robber barons, are running this Trump administration. They are writing the laws and choosing the nominees for judges and cabinet secretaries.Trump is just their figurehead. Wilbur Ross (aka the crypt keeper) as Secretary of Commerce represents a clear and present danger to our democracy. Elections have consequences! I hope everyone remembers that in 2018 and 2020! There is a lot of damage that will need to be undone!!

Kelly Naschke

When Diane speaks of consequences of elections, is she considering the consequences of Trump? Lowest unemployment in DECADES, highest consumer confidence in DECADES, growth of the economy that Obama said wasn’t possible, stock market records, massive rebuilding of our infrastructure,tax cuts, reduction of ILLEGAL immigration, the destruction of ISIS, and corporations choosing to bring money back into the country? Remember folks, Diane supported Hillary. A lying , cheating, corrupt, deplorable that rigged the DNC, had the FBI cover for her, and used the state department for her own financial gains. Diane lives in LALA land.

Gary Miller

Kelly! Not to mention HRC is the worst criminal in American history that can't be charged because she is too rich, too powerful and too brazen. Equality under the law?

Diane Turski

And you, Kelly, are living in DENIAL.

Kelly Naschke

If denial means watching our 401k growing....you are 100% correct.

Pete Nanos

Actually

Kelly Naschke

Are you denying any of what I said in my previous post about the consequences of Trump? If so, delineate which ones and provide the FACTS to support it. If you can’t....you are just another liberal blow hard that’s great at towing the party line, and oblivious to the world around you. This just in.....the tax bill is headed to the senate ..:...

Pete Nanos

A free press that tells the TRUTH is what is sorely needed in our country. What this paper is selling doesn't even come close to the truth. You are a wing of the democrat party and your paper reflects that viewpoint exclusively.

Allison Mugnier

I get an immense amount of entertainment from reading the letters that Kelly, Gary, and Carlos (where is he today?) post. I read your articles and I envision them all drooling and spitting while their faces get redder and their eyes bug out. Could Kelly have listed any more cliches and Trump-provided talking points in one letter than he has today? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

This has nothing to do with the point of your commentary, of course, but I still thank you for providing the forum for my amusement.

Kelly Naschke

in other words Allison.....you are a liberal that cant refute ONE single thing that was said....
laugh at that
or provide FACT to refute anything that was said
I can see you and Diane dancing around at the capital with your pu$$y hats on with Ashley Judd.

Carlos Ponce

"Carlos (where is he today?) "
I'm here just reading other's posts. [beam]
I also find them "entertaining. I don't respond to every letter to the editor or column. But if I have a point to make or counter someone's post, I will!

Dwight Burns

Good observation.

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