Rolls of paper on The Citizen's printing press at the newspaper's downtown Auburn office. 

Robert Harding, The Citizen

Two New York representatives are speaking out against the Commerce Department's preliminary decision to impose tariffs on Canadian paper used by book publishers and newspapers across the state. 

U.S. Reps. Brian Higgins and Elise Stefanik oppose the Commerce Department's proposed action to impose tariffs of up to 10 percent on uncoated groundwood paper imports from Canada. 

The Commerce Department's decision follows a petition filed by the North Pacific Paper Company last summer. The company, which is based in the state of Washington, claimed Canadian-made paper was harming its business. 

But Stefanik, R-Willsboro, said the possible tariffs would harm businesses, including newspapers, that rely on the uncoated groundwood paper from Canada. 

"My district is home to a thriving local press corps that would be unfairly burdened by these costs, harming local journalism and the families across my district that rely on these important organizations," she said. 

The newspapers in Stefanik's district that would be affected by the decision include The Post-Star in Glens Falls. The Post-Star and The Citizen are owned by Lee Enterprises, an Iowa-based media company. 

More than 1,100 U.S. newspapers, including The Citizen and The Post-Star, signed a letter that was sent by the News Media Alliance to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in December. The organizations warned that imposing tariffs on Canadian paper could result in the closure of many small newspapers. 

"To survive, some newspapers may resort to increasing print subscription prices, which would only exacerbate the severe challenges facing print newspapers," the letter reads. 

There are other opponents of the Commerce Department's preliminary decision. The American Forest and Paper Association, a leading group representing the U.S. paper industry, opposes the tariffs. 

Higgins, D-Buffalo, said local newspapers shouldn't be harmed by North Pacific Paper Company's claims. 

"The proposed duties would cause undue burden, destabilizing the industry, forcing increases in subscription rates for consumers and reducing jobs in an area already stretched thin," he said. 

The Commerce Department's decision isn't final. The agency could reverse course and not impose tariffs on uncoated groundwood paper. A final determination will be made in May. 

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.