MOUNT VERNON, Ind. (AP) -- Officials of a southwestern Indiana county have approved issuing $1.3 billion in bonds for a proposed fertilizer plant being developed by a Pakistan-based group after Gov. Mike Pence pulled state support, citing concerns about the company's overseas products being used in explosives in Afghanistan.
The Posey County Council voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of the financing plan for the Midwest Fertilizer Corp. plant. Pence announced Tuesday the state wouldn't block the county, located along the Ohio River west of Evansville, from backing project, despite his reservations.
The plant is expected to have about 300 workers, although a site for it hasn't yet been selected, county and company officials said. The financing deal makes investors — including Pakistan-based Fatima Group — responsible for repaying the bonds, the Evansville Courier & Press reported (http://bit.ly/102Ny3m).
"We're getting there one hurdle at a time, and today we did a big hurdle," Posey County Council President Bob Gentil said after the vote.
The Indiana Finance Authority originally issued the bonds in December, but Pence suspended the state's involvement in January after learning about concerns that U.S. military officials had over fertilizer made by Fatima Group being used in explosive devices in Afghanistan.
Since that time, Fatima Group has made several changes to its supply chain and is now working on a new less-explosive formula. Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, a U.S. military commander, last month described Fatima's efforts as "big steps" toward improving product safety.
Tom Campbell, a Houston attorney representing Fatima Group, said the Posey County plant would produce urea ammonium nitrate, which is a fertilizer not used in explosives.
Campbell said the plant would be primarily fueled by natural gas and not be a significant polluter.
"There's very little waste associated with the process," he said. "There's minimal water usage."
Officials expect construction will take about three years.
John Taylor, executive director of the Posey County Economic Development Partnership, said there are three possible sites near Mount Vernon being considered for the plant.
Details must still also be finalized on a $143 million tax incentive package offered by county officials for the plant, said Jonathan Weinzapfel, an attorney for the county economic development commission.