Community, Government, Latest News, Monongalia County

Disputed ASF funds accounted for in grants

Based on a published list of grants awarded between 2011 and 2019, the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation has awarded 99 grants, totaling just under $2.2 million.

That data appears to refute claims made late last month by Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom.

An additional $1.6 million has been placed in an ASF account to ensure future grants, accounting for $3.8 million of the $4 million total received by the ASF.

Questions about the ASF’s grant funding were raised by Bloom late last month in response to questions raised about the county commission’s past and future dealings with Longview Power.

The commission is negotiating a PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes, with Longview Power for a $1.1 billion solar and natural gas expansion to accompany the coal-fired power plant on Fort Martin Road.

This will be the second such agreement between the power producer and the county. As incentive to build the existing 710 megawatt, $2.2 billion coal plant locally, Longview signed a PILOT agreement in 2003 worth $105 million over 40 years. Those dollars began changing hands in 2011.

A challenge to the permitting process brought by The Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited and the National Parks Conservation Association resulted in Longview paying $500,000 for the first 10 years of the agreement and $300,000 each year thereafter — $4 million to date — to be used to reduce greenhouse gases; restore streams and fisheries; promote public awareness and create carbon-reduction research and projects.

Based on data provided by Longview President and CEO Jeffery Keffer, Bloom said he believed the ASF had spent less than $355,400 on the type of remediation efforts spelled out in the agreement and had spent more than $1.2 million on “lawyers and other activities.”

The ASF refuted those claims and pointed to the list of grants awarded available on its website.

The organizations that have received funds are located in West Virginia and portions of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania and, according to information listed on the ASF’s website — — appear to fund appropriate activities.

The Dominion Post unsuccessfully reached out to Bloom and a representative of the ASF for this report.

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