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Renewable diesel project could hinge on local tax break

June 24, 2021 GMT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Part of a refinery in petroleum-dependent Louisiana may be converted into a facility that can make renewable diesel fuel using soybean oil, corn oil or other fats and oils, if local officials OK a tax break for the project.

The proposal for conversion of a currently idle unit at PBF Energy’s refinery in Chalmette was touted Thursday in a news release from Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office.

The joint statement with PBF officials said the $550 million project, if implemented, would help preserve more than 500 current jobs at the plant, create 200 construction jobs and add 110 permanent jobs. State incentives include an industrial tax exemption that will have to be approved by local taxing bodies in St. Bernard Parish. Votes are expected later this summer.

The project has the backing of Parish President Guy McInnis.

“The Chalmette Refining facility has been a mainstay of our local economy for more than a century,” St. McInnis said. “This important project would position the refinery for success in the years to come as it adapts to the new demands of our energy future.” He said the refinery is the parish’s top taxpayer and largest private employer.

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The unit in question is called a “hydrocracker.” The state news release said it has been idle since 2010.

“PBF Energy is looking for projects that will create stability for our workforce, prepare the refinery for a green energy transition and help us recover from the losses of the last year and a half, PBF Chalmette Refinery Manager Steven Krynski said in Thursday’s statement.

In April, Edwards announced a $700 million venture by Olathe, Kansas-based Strategic Biofuels LLC to build a new renewable diesel plant in north Louisiana’s Caldwell Parish. Existing renewable diesel plants in Geismar and Norco also have announced expansion plans over the past year.