County Commissioner Bloom Repeated Longview’s Concerns about the Appalachian Stewardship Funding

by admin on March 22, 2020

ASF promotes stream & wildlife recovery and preservation

Comm. Tom Bloom articulates specific grievance against ASF, finally

Editorial Opinion by Morgantown Dominion Post, March 19, 2020

We’d like to interrupt the continuous coverage of coronavirus to take Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom up on his offer to write an editorial about his comments regarding the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation.

Thank you, sir, for offering yourself up as a distraction. The public appreciates you.

Let us preface this editorial by saying that we like Bloom. But it is our job as a trusted news source to follow up on accusations made on the public record against an entity. Particularly if the support for such an accusation is unclear.

We reported a claim (DP 01-16-20) Bloom made that the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation had only spent $355,400 of the $4 million it received as part of an agreement with Longview on “stream and forest remediation.” The other half of the claim was that ASF had spent $1,244,609 on “lawyers and other fees.” Bloom’s source for this information was a letter from Longview president Jeffrey Keffer.

Five days later, ASF representatives posted a response online stating they have not paid legal fees to any lawyer.

We published a follow-up article (DP 02-12-20) after doing our own accounting and reported $1.6 million had been set aside in an endowment fund but $2.2 million had been awarded in the form of 99 grants to environmental organizations in the region. This accounts for $3.8 million.

At the time that article was printed, Bloom had not responded to multiple requests for comment.

Another month later, Bloom has finally gotten back to us. On Monday, he said he will not apologize for questioning the ASF’s spending habits. Rather, he reiterated his claim that less than $355,000 has been spent on “carbon dioxide sequestration and stream mitigation.” Specifically, Bloom points to five grants totaling $207,500 to Appalachian Mountain Advocates — a public interest law and policy organization — dating back to fall 2012 as particularly questionable.

According to Bloom, “The ASF chose grant applications that appear to fund programs that were to stop fossil fuel programs, shut down pipelines and stop fracking. To me, that doesn’t meet the agreement. So if the paper wants to write an editorial about how things appear and accuse me of getting this all wrong, well, I’ve gone through the numbers.”

We’re so glad Bloom finally articulated a specific complaint. We, as well as our readers, were dangling on that cliff hanger for two months, wondering what, precisely, ASF had done wrong. We’re still not entirely sure where Bloom gets his numbers (we calculated six grants totaling $190,000 awarded to AMA starting in spring 2014), but it’s helpful to know that Bloom’s discomfort is grant money funding legal efforts rather than literal tree planting.

We see nothing wrong with ASF’s choice of grant recipients. In the case of AMA, their efforts are focused on preventing environmental problems rather than just cleaning up after them. If ASF chooses to fund programs that treat the source instead of the symptoms, we take no issue with that. But Bloom is allowed to disagree.


See also: Appalachian Stewardship Foundation Replies to Longview Issues, Larry Harris, FrackCheckWV, January 28, 2020

The geographical range of the foundations’ activities includes West Virginia, parts of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Since its first granting round in 2012, ASF has received $4 million from Longview Power and approved grants totaling over $2.2 million to groups across West Virginia and Virginia through our twice annual grant distribution process.

A description of that grant process and a complete list of those grants awarded to date is available on the ASF website at:

A statement (contained in an internal email from Longview’s president and CEO) that ASF has paid $1.2 million to lawyers, individually or collectively, is false. ASF has not paid legal fees to any lawyer.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: