MAXWELTON — A man who lives near the proposed site for a synthetic fuel facility in the Sam Black area is urging local officials to “be proactive” in determining the potential environmental impact of the project.

Houston Adkins shared his concerns with the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation’s board of directors Thursday afternoon.

Among the issues Adkins raised is the possibility that the plant — which was pitched to state economic development officials as a $73 million facility — may operate far below capacity and, therefore, never deliver the promised 60 to 100 jobs.

He also expressed concern over the potential that the plant could eventually be sold to a foreign company.

Adkins questioned claims that the proposed facility will be “bio-green,” and asked the GVEDC board to set up an independent agency and negotiate terms with Proton Power, the developer responsible for the project, before allowing the plant to be built.

“There’s an assumption that someone’s going to do the right thing for the environment,” Adkins said.

But that assumption appears to be incorrect, he told the board, saying he has discovered that no environmental impact study is required for the construction of the plant. Approval of the project will be up to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, he said, and the state Department of Environmental Protection appears to be unaware of the existence of the proposal.

Adkins addressed the Greenbrier County Commission last month about some of these same concerns.

Commission President Woody Hanna said he does not believe the developer is seeking federal, state or local investment in the project, but instead plans to sell bonds to finance the plant’s construction.

Later in Thursday’s meeting, GVEDC executive director Andrew Hagy reported, “We and the (state) Development Office are monitoring this.”

Hagy described the project as “a little unorthodox,” with a lot of “moving parts.”

Nonetheless, he said, the GVEDC stands ready to help the developer “cross the goal line,” if the project has a chance to succeed and bring jobs to the region. 

Email: talvey@register-herald.com

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