The owners of the 105-year-old refinery in Chalmette say they need a big break on local taxes to lure investment in a new green energy project.
Without it, they say the future of the plant and its 516 employees is at risk.
PBF Energy, the New Jersey-based corporate owner of the refinery, which bought it from ExxonMobil for $322 million six years ago, is seeking a deal through the controversial Industrial Tax Exemption Program that would exempt it from paying 80% of local property taxes if the new project becomes a reality.
The ITEP incentive, which is estimated to cost local governments in Louisiana about $2 billion a year, has in recent years faced increasing opposition from across the political spectrum. A package of bills that proposed to phase it out advanced in April, although the bills ultimately didn’t pass.
PBF said that it needs outside investment to go ahead with the conversion of a unit that used to make distillates and gasoline until it was put out of service more than a decade ago. The company argues that the investment would allow that unit to turn soybean oil and other feedstock into biodiesel fuel at a much cheaper rate than rival refineries.