It has been appalling to watch as a handful — an actual handful — of vociferous protesters potentially jeopardized the multibillion-dollar Rivian Corp. and the state of Georgia’s efforts to build a state of the art facility here. This band of malcontents caused the project to hit a snag over the issue of bond validation by two local Boards of Tax Assessors causing the State, Joint Development Authority and the company to investigate alternative legal remedies.
The four-county region including Newton, Morgan, Walton and Jasper sees Rivian’s arrival bringing thousands of green energy jobs, multimillions of dollars to improve public schools and generous contributions to the local tax digests to relieve the burden on long-term landowners.
An observer cannot help but wonder what the protests would be like were the state trying to locate a massive new prison or acres and acres devoted to hog farming and the accompanying noxious waste lagoons. Rivian takes sustainability seriously, not just for the vehicles it creates — but how it runs its business and is approaching this project. The electric vehicles that it produces offer us an off-ramp from the fossil-fuel industry that threatens our climate and future.
The Morgan County NIMBYs need to pull back and have a look from 30,000 feet. They can’t see beyond the end of their nose, and they are posing irreparable harm to hundreds of thousands of people who don’t share their thinking. There are worse things than an environmentally sensitive employer who will provide jobs to sustain and support an entire region and bulk up tax collections for the benefit of everyone.
Remember that many people in our area, and that may include some of these protesters, have enjoyed decades of beneficial tax treatment through Conservation Easements without contributing their fair share to the upkeep and progress of their own counties. Let’s be truthful.