Reflection: The Last Mountain


The Last Mountain  is a documentary about Mountain Top Removal, and its negative impact on the communities of the Coal River Valley in West Virginia. For anyone who hasn’t heard of Mountain Top Removal is a form of surface mining that involves the mining of the summit of a mountain. The coal seams are extracted from a mountain by removing the overburden, above the seams. Explosives are used to remove up to 400 vertical feet of mountain to expose underlying coal seams.The land may be dumped back on the ridge and constructed in order to reflect the approximate original shaping of the mountain. Excess rock and soil laden with toxic mining byproducts are often dumped into nearby valleys, in what are called “holler fills” or “valley fills.” It is the main method of coal mining in the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States.

The documentary reflects on how this method is destructive to the land, air, water and over all health of those who live in the communities below the mountains. It features Bobby Kennedy Jr. who works with the environmentalists of the communities. They put together rallies and protests in order to stop the actions of coal companies such as Massey Energy Company which is America’s 3rd Largest coal company, does more mountaintop removal mining than any other company, and controls all the coal mining in Coal River Valley. 28 of Massey’s impoundment’s (a large pool where they store their radioactive sludge. The one shown in Coal River Mountain holds 2.8 billion gallons of said sludge) have spilled 24 times in the last decade, contaminating rivers with 309 million gallons of the sludge, which was more than twice the amount released in BP’s gulf disaster.

Massey so far has been  the environmentalists biggest enemy. In the sense that the company wants their money, has employees to get work done and are willing to fight for their jobs, and has enough support of government officials to keep going with their production plans. The biggest mean of shutting down the companies actions has been  civil disobedience, which in one campaign had been successful in halting the operations for a solid 9 days before a snow storm forced them out.

This film really gets you thinking, is the death and destruction caused by these companies really necessary?  And I mean, no its definitely not, that’s why there are regulations prohibiting this kind of thing. But we have the technology, or at least are very close to it in order to create clean, safe, green energy for the country.

This is definitely a film worth watching, I found it as a $3 rental on amazon.


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