The debate over a proposed Indiana nitrogen production facility has a new wrinkle. Fatima fertilizer had been approved for funding and tax breaks from the state of Indiana, but Governor Mike Pence withdrew his support of the project based on a Department of Justice report. Lt. General Michael Barbero spearheaded the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization which had reason to believe that ammonium nitrate from Fatima's Pakistani production facility was used by militants in that area to manufacture improvised explosive devices.
Those implications were strengthened by reports from Gen. Barbero that the company had been 'less than cooperative' in stemming the flow of ammonium nitrate into the hands of local militants. At that, Governor Pence rescinded state support.
General Barbero retired over the weekend with the Fatima quandary as his final mission in service to the DOD, but before he left, the General was adamant in pointing out that Fatima had made some great strides toward compliance including specialized labeling of explosive materials, eliminating middlemen at distribution points in Pakistan and by joining the International Fertilizer Association's product security plan which makes Fatima subject to IFA audits and sanctions.
The most important step was the signing of a military-to-military agreement that opens lines of communication regarding improvised explosive devices between the U.S. and Pakistani militaries.
So far, Governor Pence maintains that Fatima has not done enough but Posey County officials are looking to fund the project with tax incentives from the county level rather than the State. That would allow Fatima to move ahead with the proposed nitrogen facility without the state's incentives.
General Barbero has defined 'due diligence' in this instance, but Governor Pence holds a more cautious stance. Meanwhile, the people of Posey County eye the 2000 construction jobs, 150 permanent jobs and a much needed domestic nitrogen source as a means to prosper their county. But with Barbero retiring, it will be easy for Fatima to fall back into old habits.
Some have criticized Governor Pence for moving too cautiously and acting heavy-handedly with Fatima, but to err on the side of caution when the lives of U.S. troops and citizens are potentially threatened is no sin.
Photo credit: The U.S. Army / Foter.com / CC BY