One hedge-fund-owned paper mill in the distant confines of Washington State shouldn't hold sway over the fortunes of an entire national industry — and the consumers who rely on it.
But that's what will happen if the federal government imposes duties of up to 50 percent on Canadian newsprint, upon which American newspaper companies rely.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Congress if necessary, owe it to the free flow of print news and the thousands of jobs threatened by this proposed tariff to say "no."
A single business, the North Pacific Paper Company, or NORPAC, is championing the duties, petitioning the U.S. Commerce Department to adopt the tariff.
The Commerce Department is slated to make a preliminary decision on the matter by Jan. 8.
Ross and his department should listen to the overtures of The News Media Alliance, National Newspaper Association and a bipartisan coalition of congressional members who oppose the duties on Canadian paper used to publish American newspapers.
Congressional opponents of the duties rightly have concluded they would threaten an industry of 175,000 jobs and would "further damage the printed news industry in the United States, which has seen a more than 50 percent decline in advertising revenue over the last 10 years."
How the federal government reacts to the request from this one Washington State paper mill holds importance to more than just the newspaper industry.
Exacting duties based on the whim of one interest is a dangerous precedent to set for a nation that should be encouraging industries to thrive on the principle of greater good.
By that litmus test, an imposition of duties on Canadian newsprint fails miserably.
Duties of up to 50 percent would threaten jobs, drive up printing costs and force increases in consumer costs — all of which ultimately hamper the free flow of information in a trusted news medium.
We ask our congressional leaders — and loyal readers — to rise with us against these harmful, unfair tariffs that fly in the face of so many interests.