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Warning you about crappy movies since 2008.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Last Mountain

If the name "Massey Energy" rings a bell, it may be because of the bad press it's gotten in recent years for its 60,000 environmental violations. Massey operates the W.Va. mine where workers were trapped and killed a few years ago. Yes, mining is inherently dangerous, but the documentary points out that Massey seems to make it more so by disregarding worker safety.

Apparently, they've also disregarded the environment and the residents of the impoverished little hollow towns where they operate.

It's easy enough not to know about or think of the residents of the trailer park near Massey's mountaintop removal (MTR) operation on Coal Mountain. These people have a higher than average incidence of brain tumors. Way higher. Six people in the same cul-de-sac developed brain tumors, including one fetus who was born with a tumor. But, when you consider that W.Va. coal provides the power for (and pollutes the water of) a wide swath of the population from Pa. to Ga., it starts to matter.

The movie's heroes are the brilliant environmental attorney/activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and a band of citizen-activists (including former coal miners) who are fighting Massey, their local governments and their state government. (W.Va. Gov. Joe Manchin is a Democrat, so this is not a liberal-vs.-conservative issue.)

The film doesn't offer a balanced view (what documentary does?), but the filmmakers do give the coal industry a chance to respond. The president of the W.Va. coal miners association gets a good amount of screen time and comes across as a smart, affable guy. Massey's CEO appears in film footage, but he isn't interviewed. He comes across as a jackass.

The Last Mountain is the kind of movie that makes the audience jeer the bad guys and cheer (literally) the small victories by the people fighting City Hall -- and larger authorities. See it.

The Last Mountain