The Last Mountain in Theaters June 3
The sun, the moon, the rain, and the clouds all conspire with the Appalachian Mountains to provide those who live there with an ever-changing vista. Each day the mountains look different, changing often throughout the course of the day, but always devastatingly beautiful. Those are the Appalachians that run through Western North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains.
In West Virginia, not all the mountains are beautiful. Many are just devastated. Mountaintop removal mining has left a lunar landscape of mountains brought down by greed, politics, and complacency. Filmmaker Bill Haney’s The Last Mountain, opening in theaters June 3, 2011, explores both the environmental and human costs of this controversial engineering technique.
The Last Mountain is Coal River Mountain; it stands among ravaged mountains that have been mined to extinction. While residents and activists fight (non-violently) to save the mountain, the coal industry (which powers half of our electricity) gets closer to tearing it apart. Collateral damage? Polluted streams, defunct rivers, a verdant forest exterminated, a population sickened and killed by the omnipresent dust laden with heavy metals and other toxic material.
Singled out as villain is Massey Energy, a company with an impressive (and long) history of coal mine violations that resulted in—relatively—slaps on the wrist. Massey couldn’t have accomplished such a record without the complicity of the politicians who receive large campaign donations, a state government more pro-coal than pro-citizen, and a nation dependent on coal because it is too lazy (can we be too stupid?) to develop other methods of powering itself.
The Last Mountain is clearly a film with an agenda, which is amplified by the participation of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Coal River Mountain residents, coal industry representatives, journalists, environmentalists, and scientists. Much like 2010’s Deep Down, it reveals greed that blithely, callously disregards the damage it causes to people and their environment.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you don’t live in Appalachia, mountaintop removal does not affect you. See The Last Mountain and learn how a dependence on coal is detrimental to every living organism, no matter what state is home.