"Fertilizer Industry Grows Despite Safety Concerns"

"TUSCOLA, Ill. --  In years past, Brian Moody's efforts to bring economic development to his small Illinois town focused on modest projects: merging an old hardware store whose owner was retiring with another shop to preserve 30 jobs or pointing artists to a vacant downtown building."

"Now he has a bigger prospect. Cronus Chemicals wants to build a $1.2 billion plant on a nearby cornfield that would manufacture nitrogen-based fertilizer, a staple of the corn and soybean farms that fill the landscape around Tuscola, a community of 4,500 people about 160 miles south of Chicago.

Similar projects are being proposed across the nation, driven by booming demand for corn and newly abundant supplies of natural gas, a major component in fertilizer production. The plants promise thousands of jobs during construction and hundreds of full-time spots once they're up and running. And most of them would go in small, rural towns where economic development isn't easy."

David Mercer and Ramit Plushnick-Masti report for the Associated July 18, 2013.

Source: AP, 07/18/2013