The Last Mountain

Turn on your lights.  Now turn on your computer and monitor.  Type in www.reelfilmnews.com and pull up this review.  Do you know what it all has in common?  Well, it’s energy or electricity.  But stop to think for a minute where that electricity came from.  I bet you rarely ever think about it.  We take it for granted.  It’s almost like an entitlement.  But chances are that electricity came from a coal burning power plant.  And where did that coal come from?  Well, chances are it came from small communities that are being destroyed by massive energy companies determined to make a profit.

This is a film that discusses that exact topic.  Directed by Bill Haney, The Last Mountain is a film that focuses on two major things.  The first being a small community fighting to save Coal River Mountain from Mountain Top mining by the coal industry.  They’ve even proposed a permanent wind energy plan that would generate a tremendous amount of energy for the communities of West Virginia.  Unfortunately though, mining permits have already been granted for the coal companies.

The second being a look at the coal industry itself and all of the repercussions that surround mining coal.  The film focuses in on one energy company, Massey Energy and its blatant disregard for the environment and for the people surrounding the areas in which they currently, and plan to mine.

The Last Mountain

I could go into further detail regarding the plot but it’s really something you should see, rather than something you should read.  Coal mining does hurt people.  It releases silica dust into the air which can, and does cause cancer within humans.  The small town surrounding Coal River Mountain had six individuals with brain cancer many of which have passed away.  The statistical probability of this happening with them living practically next door to each other is highly unlikely, yet it exists.

Coal processing plants are set up literally right next to school buildings.  Dust from the coal coats the sides of the buildings and likely coats the lungs of the children and teachers at the school.

Unfortunately though West Virginia has decided that its economic windfall is coal mining.  Their governor claims to be a “friend of coal”.  Unfortunately for the people of these communities though, it’s practically a death sentence in that it’s causing them to get cancer.

The Last Mountain

What really struck me about this movie was that activist and attorney Bobby Kennedy Jr., son of Robert Kennedy is truly devoted to this cause.  After his uncle Ted passed away, President Obama went to offer his condolences.  Rather than simply accept those condolences he took the time to lobby the president against mountain top mining.  Days afterwards the EPA issued stricter guidelines and made it much tougher to obtain permits.  Even in a time of great sorrow and grief, he felt so strongly about the position he specifically lobbied the president about it.  It’s something to be commended.

This is a good film, well made, and very well thought out.  It’s a film and an issue I’d strongly recommend people go out and see.

FINAL GRADE:  A –

Reel Film News Movie Review by Bill Ayres

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