Lantic ... a subsidy in the making?
A while ago I decided to look into something advertised in the Lethbridge Herald about a Quebec company called Lantic.
In short, Lantic operates a sugar beat refinery and was in violation of provincial emission regulations. Last October, the company placed an ad in the paper to advertise that they received temporary approval (a “certificate of variance”) from the provincial government to continue operating.
I decided to file a freedom of information request to learn a bit more about what was going on.
Here are a couple notes about the materials provided by the government (click here to view) …
1) Staff definitely did not appear to support the certificate of variance (COV). Page 47 notes that allowing Lantic to continue operating as is would set a “negative” precedent. Page 70 shows a draft letter from the minister refusing the COV.
If you crawl through the documents there are other signs that staff don’t appear to support what’s going on. Oddly enough, while the government decides who does and does not receive COVs, staff note on page 97 that they’re not “negotiating from a power position on this one.”
In April, I asked for info on the last 10 certificate of variances handed out by the government. The approval time – from request to granting the COV – took an average of about 15 weeks. Lantic’s was the fastest and it took just one week. (Click here to see the email I received)
2) Will Lantic seek a subsidy to bring their plant into compliance? Page 97 of the information package notes, “Environment and Parks understands that there is no current Government of Alberta funding or other mechanisms in the immediate-term to address this air emissions issue.”
Yet, later on there are multiple mentions that Lantic could “apply for Climate Leadership Plan funding to help them offset the cost of new technologies at their plant.” (P. 112)
As of today, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Lantic has received a grant (you can see the government's grant database if you click here). That’s good news. If the company hasn’t been meeting environmental regulations for quite sometime, taxpayers shouldn’t have to bail it out with a subsidy.
However, given the government’s talking points about funding Lantic, a potential subsidy to this company is worth keeping an eye on...