The SLC Green: The Last Mountain Screening

mountaintop-removal-mining-video

It’s easy, these days, to forget that things come from someplace.  Tracing the roots of a tomato can be difficult.  Thinking about where the energy we consume comes from requires another level of extraction.  These are entities that are just there, but, they have real, tangible sources.  The disasters of deep oil wells have caught the public attention in recent years.  Coal, however, solicits images of Industrial Revolution-era miners digging for the power behind the growing capitalist economy.  It slips into the annals of history, an issue replaced by more modern questions of running our cars on corn.

Residents of the valleys of Appalachia would tell you differently.  Bill Haney, in his film The Last Mountain tells the story of a group of socially active citizens in Western Virginia as they collectively work to dismantle the long standing power of Big Coal.  Coal corporations are using a mining technique, mountain top removal, which is detrimental to the ecosystem and human community alike.  Mountain top removal consists of removing the peak of mountains to gain access to the coal within.  The removed matter is then deposited in valleys.

The process is mechanically intensive a driven by huge capital investments.  Draglines, intensive machinery weighing up to 8 million pounds, dig into the exposed rock to facilitate access to the coal within.  The labor costs are minimal and the process rapid. Theoretically, the mountain is then restored to its original state, the feasibility of which is highly contested.  More often than not, mining companies abandon mines once they have been exhausted.

Despite grim prospects, locals are banding together to combat the power of industry and protect themselves, their water, the air, and the Appalachian Range.  Big Coal has enormous lobbying power and extends serious, threatening control over governments, both local and national.  Activists, though, are exercising their democratic agency to speak out against the environmental and human atrocities funded by skewed politics.  Check out this album raising awareness on the issue (it is also just really excellent).  The Compost Club has organized a screening to educate, and perhaps inspire, us.  Come see The Last Mountain tomorrow at 5:30 tomorrow, April 19th in Titsworth Lecture Hall.  Bring your own cup for drinks.  There will be pizza! Sponsored by SAS and Student Senate.  RSVP: compostclub@gm.slc.edu.

 

Sources:

http://www.epa.gov/Region3/mtntop/

http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/spring07/Bartlett/history.html

http://www.mountainjusticesummer.org/facts/steps.php

Nina Sparling (Editor, “What’s Up”) is a bi-coastal aspiring bread baker frustrated with the current food system. Originally from Berkeley, she moved to New York, complaining most of the way, until she found the Met and figured out the subway (but still has serious envy for Bay Area vegetables). Currently a sophomore at Sarah Lawrence, Nina studies languages, political ecology, and geography and tries to figure out how they all relate.

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