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Advocate staff file photo by David J. Mitchell — The CF Industries fertilizer complex, shown here in Donaldsonville, is expecting to add a "green ammonia" plant, the largest of its type in North America.

CF Industries is asking for an 80% break from property taxes on a new $122 million "green ammonia" plant it expects to build at its nitrogen complex in Donaldsonville, with operations to begin in 2023.

The company, based in DeerField, Illinois, makes agriculture fertilizer, including ammonia. At the new plant, hydrogen used to make the ammonia would be carbon-free, for an ammonia-manufacturing process with reduced carbon dioxide emissions, company officials say.

Through Louisiana's Industrial Tax Exemption Program, CF Industries is seeking a tax break from the major taxing bodies in Ascension Parish — the school board, parish and Sheriff's Office — of 80% of property taxes for five years, renewable to 10 years if the project meets its commitments in investment and job creation. 

"When complete, the Donaldsonville green ammonia project will be the largest of its kind in North America," said Kate MacArthur, chief executive officer of the Ascension Economic Development Corp., at an Ascension Parish School Board meeting Tuesday.

Construction and installation is expected to begin in late 2021 and finish in 2023, MacArthur said.

The School Board will vote on the request at its next meeting, on Nov. 24. 

If the request is approved, CF Industries would be exempt from paying $7 million, over 10 years, in School Board property tax collections.

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During construction, the project would generate $1.2 million of sales tax revenue for the board, MacArthur said.

Over the life of the green ammonia plant, the School Board would see $8.5 million in property tax revenues collected.

With its existing operations, CF Industries pays $8.1 million in annual property taxes and $13.4 million in annual state and parish sales taxes, MacArthur said. 

Morris Johnson, the general manager of CF Industries' nitrogen complex in Donaldsonsville, said after Tuesday's School Board meeting that the company "has established a path to de-carbonization."

The new project in Ascension Parish "is the first step on that path," he said. 

CF Industries says its goal is net-zero carbon emissions in 2050.

Earlier this year, an LSU professor identified CF Industries as the state's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, with 8 million tons spewed into the atmosphere in 2019. The list of Top 20 polluters compiled by David Dismukes, executive director of LSU’s Center for Energy Studies, did not include about 2 million tons of nitrogen oxide gases, another greenhouse gas, released by the plant. 

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