Canada's 'chemical valley' city looks to lure green investment

Thu Nov 10, 2016 1:15pm EST
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Sarnia, Ontario, home to dozens of Canada's refineries and chemical plants, is lobbying hard to lure a biotech plant to the city as the local petrochemical-powered economy braces for the impact of a provincial carbon-pricing scheme.

BioAmber Inc - which turns corn syrup into an ingredient used to make plastics, food flavoring and cosmetics that would otherwise come from fossil fuels – has already built its first production plant in the city.

The company is now weighing whether to build a second facility there that is six times bigger than its first, or set up shop in Louisiana, a $500 million decision expected early next year.

Sarnia officials say they are keen to diversify a local economy that is heavily reliant upon the refining and chemical complex dubbed "chemical valley," a major source of carbon emissions.

The industry faces rising costs as the federal and some provincial governments in Canada push for an escalating price on carbon, while pledging to use tax dollars to support green industries.

By contrast, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has called global warming a hoax.

"If they want to make the carbon price and the green economy work, they've got to invest in places like Sarnia," said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley.

BioAmber says it is looking for a counter-offer to the $360 million loan guarantee it is seeking from the U.S. Department of Energy to build in Louisiana.   Continued...