Business

Rep. Hastings tours Agrium plant

KENNEWICK -- Rep. Doc Hastings toured a Kennewick fertilizer plant Thursday to learn more about what he called an "energy tax" that U.S. industrial manufacturers would have to pay if they are unable to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under provisions of a congressional bill.

Hastings voted against the American Clean Energy and Security bill, which recently passed the House of Representatives. The Pasco Republican toured Agrium's Kennewick Fertilizer Operations on Thursday to learn more about the potential impact of the bill on fertilizer plants across the nation.

The Senate soon will be discussing the bill, he said.

People need to understand that under the "cap and trade" system in the bill, the federal government will set up a cap on carbon emissions and companies will buy and sell permits for emission allowances, he said.

"You're taxing the fuel which runs our economy," Hastings said.

Agrium's fertilizer plant is an important manufacturing asset, which helps diversify the Tri-City economy, he said.

About 90 percent of the plant's fertilizer products are used by farmers in the Mid-Columbia, said plant manager Josh Regan.

Annually, the plant produces about 250,000 tons of a variety of nitrogen-based liquid fertilizers, he said.

"We're here to stay as partners with the community," he said, adding that Agrium helps in the growth of the agricultural economy of the region.

The plant has 45 full-time employees who together earn about $3.8 million in wages and benefits, and it pays about $400,000 in property taxes and spends more than $1 million a year on local goods and supplies, Regan said.

He also said the plant has a management plan, approved by state and county agencies, to control the emission of nitrogen oxide in the air.

-- Pratik Joshi: 582-1541; pjoshi@tricityherald.com; Business Beat blog at www.tricityherald.com

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