Majority vote 'no' for gasification plant, $2.8-billion project - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Majority vote 'no' for gasification plant, $2.8-billion project not happening

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ROCKPORT, IN (WFIE) -

It was years in the making but early Saturday, a vote by lawmakers kills the project.

The project's fate now lies in the hands of Governor Mike Pence who can still veto the kill, if he so chooses. However, that is very unlikely as Pence was one of the people who pushed to pass this bill.

According to Indiana Gasification Representative Mike Murphy, the Indiana Legislature passed a bill, very early Saturday morning that called for further review of the project.

The project has already been reviewed for 18-months by state organizations such as the IURC. By passing this bill, the project is subject to another nine-months of review. Basically, the plant's developers and investors believe this process has been drawn-out for too long and they say they are no longer willing to finance and build the gasification plant.

"They're taking jobs out of the people's hands who really need them," says Tera Evrard. "How many times does an opportunity come to Spencer County at this magnitude? And they're going to shoot it down?"

This $2.8-million gasification plant was project to create about 2,000 jobs. With Saturday morning's vote, those jobs and that investment won't be realized.

"I have people that were excited that this opportunity was coming," says Evrard. "I know that across the river, there's an aluminum plant that's being threatened to shut down. Those employees probably could have been helped by this."

The bill passed early Saturday morning and called for another nine-month review process for the plant and for a restructuring of the 30-year deal. Since this wasn't the original plan, the plant's financier Leucadia National backed out.

"If the bill that passed had been law four years ago, Leucadia would have never spent a penny in this state," says Murphy.

Thought many in Spencer County aren't happy about this, there are others who feel this was a victory overall for the state.

"It really protect Hoosier Natural Gas customers," says Mike Roeder from Vectren. "It's not just down here, it's statewide. This is an issue where had this plant been built the way it was structured, the 2-million natural gas customers in Indiana could have faced a surcharge on their bill for 30-years to help pay for the plant. It was really about trying to protect the consumer."

14 News tried to get a hold of the Spencer County Economic Development Office to find out if Saturday's vote will have any effect on the fertilizer plant that was expected to be built next to the gasification plant. So far, we have not heard back from them but we will keep you updated as we learn more.

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