[On Nov. 17], the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the siting of an aerospace manufacturing facility on undeveloped forestland near Biltmore Park. Commissioners saw this as an economic boon to our community, as it will bring in an estimated 800 well-paying jobs. They even agreed to give Pratt & Whitney a $27 million tax incentive to locate here.
At the meeting, commissioners asked no questions of the P&W representative. During the public comment period, over  speakers called in, all but [one] opposed the agreement for a variety of reasons, both humanitarian and environmental.
Pratt & Whitney is a division of Raytheon Technologies, the third-largest military contractor in the world. Raytheon is the world’s top manufacturer of guided missiles and a leader in missile defense systems. In 2017, its sales were $23.9 billion. Its portfolio includes the Patriot missile system (www.cnbc.com). Raytheon has profited from selling military hardware to Saudi Arabia, which has been engaged in a bombardment of the country of Yemen that is so brutal, it is considered the most severe humanitarian crisis in the world.
No questions were asked by the commissioners about how P&W products are used or their effects. No questions or information were given on the environmental effects on our local land, air and water of locating such a plant here. In fact, the representative was painting a picture that P&W was a “green” company. P&W plant sites in Connecticut and Florida have created toxic waste sites.
Apparently, this deal has been in the works for 15 months, but the public only learned of it in the last few weeks. The public comment period ultimately proved to be a charade, as our comments of concern did not motivate any of the commissioners to ask the P&W representative to address them. Clearly, this was a done deal, and the public was only let in on it after the decision was made. The unanimous vote confirmed that for me. Three commissioners stated that they had twinges of conscience about approving this deal with a leader in the U.S. war machine but felt the benefits to our area superseded those concerns.
As a citizen of this area for over 43 years and a lifelong justice and peace advocate, I believe we have been sold out, perhaps similarly to how Judas sold out Jesus for a “few pieces of silver.”
There are other options for providing economic betterment to the people of our region, ones that are not complicit in death and destruction. That tax incentive could have been used to bring industries to our area that are truly green and sustainable. But alas, Raytheon got here first.
— Anne Craig