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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Industrial gas supplier Air Products announced Thursday it will build a $4.5 billion clean energy facility in Louisiana's capital region, a project that Gov. John Bel Edwards said will help the state's work to reduce carbon emissions in the heart of the petrochemical corridor.
The planned complex in Ascension Parish will produce “blue hydrogen," which uses natural gas to produce an alternative fuel with the carbon dioxide emissions captured and stored underground. Air Products said the facility will create 170 permanent jobs with a total annual payroll of $15.9 million, plus thousands of construction jobs to build the site over three years.
Air Products President and CEO Seifi Ghasemi said the Ascension Parish site will be the largest permanent carbon dioxide sequestration facility in the world, helping to capture human-caused emissions and keeping them out of the atmosphere.
“Nothing will come close to it,” Ghasemi said at an announcement event with Edwards, local officials and business leaders. “So clearly, Louisiana will be the world leader in sequestering carbon dioxide, which is the key to climate change.”
Some environmentalists have been wary of carbon capture technology, with Greenpeace and others saying the focus should be completely on developing renewable energy sources and that carbon capture just prolongs dependence on fossil fuels.
Air Products will capture and store about 95% of the carbon dioxide generated at the facility in deep underground geologic formations leased from the state. The complex is expected to be up and running in 2026.
Edwards, a Democrat who leads one of the nation’s top oil and gas production states, has set a goal for curtailing Louisiana's greenhouse gas emissions, seeking to cut the state's net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. A climate change task force he created is working on a strategy document for how to reach that goal, due next year.
“We are intensely committed here in Louisiana to reducing our carbon footprint, and that's true across the board inclusive of industry," Edwards said. “And we're going to do that while we grow our manufacturing base because we don't believe you have to pick one or the other.”
The governor said he will be attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, which begins Oct. 31, to promote Louisiana as a location for more clean energy projects such as the announcement from Air Products.
The Allentown, Pennsylvania-based company — which already has several facilities in Louisiana and 330 workers in the state — produces and transports hydrogen and other gases around the world to refineries, petrochemical pants and other customers. Its Ascension Parish facility will be its largest investment in the United States, company officials said.
Jobs at the new facility will have an average salary of $93,000 plus benefits.
The hydrogen created in Louisiana will be supplied to Air Products customers around the Gulf Coast and will be used to make ammonia that will be transported internationally and converted back to blue hydrogen.
Edwards said Louisiana is giving Air Products a $5 million grant, help with workforce training, local property tax breaks and a state tax rebate for creating high-paying jobs with benefits.
Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte.