The Last Mountain

by Ariana Pekary, producer

Bob with producer Clara Bingham, Robert Kennedy Jr. and director Bill HaneyIn The Last Mountain, Robert Kennedy, Jr. says that Americans would start a revolution if they could see from an airplane the destruction of mountain top removal mining. Perhaps folks would get angry if they saw, with their own two eyes, what a mountain looks like minus its top eight or nine hundred feet (that’s how much can be blown off the top of our nation’s oldest mountains as part of this process). Oh, and minus any greenery or form of life up there, making it appear to be a “moonscape,” as Kennedy points out in the film. Maybe people across the nation would rally in the streets if they knew six neighbors of varying ages all died from brain tumors, attributed to water polluted by coal from a nearby processing plant. Citizens could find ways to make Massey Energy fix or pay fines for its 67,000+ violations to the Clean Water Act.

Yes, this is all possible. Our nation could revolt.

But a few other things must happen first, it seems. One, people could be better informed, either by listening to our original documentary on the subject (Exploding Heritage), or Bob’s interview with environmentalist Robert Kennedy, Jr., and filmmakers Clara Bingham and Bill Haney. Or you could watch their film, The Last Mountain, for yourself. And two, somehow support needs to be garnered for the Appalachian Mountains, the same way people care about the Berkshires or the Cascades.  As Bob points out in the interview, the Berkshires would never be blasted on a daily basis they way the mountains are in West Virginia. The people there simply wouldn’t allow it.

Here is the film’s trailer.



3 Replies to “The Last Mountain”

  1. Bob, mountain top removal is surely a terrible practice, but coal as an energy source is as ingrained in the American fabric as apple pie. Replacing it is not as easy as we might wish. For a lawyer, Robert Kennedy Jr. is awfully imprecise with his language. Phrases like “All” the fish in America will be killed and, on the subject of wind power, “Free energy forever” make us question his credibility. It is a myth that wind generated electricity can power America. Here in West Virginia, we do have wind farms, and they are built on ridge tops where healthy trees and the natural environment has to be removed to gouge two lane highway sized roads running for miles to allow trucks to carry the tower sections, blades and nacelles to the individual turbine sites. These loads are among the heaviest and longest loads that are allowed to travel on our interstate highway system. Mr. Kennedy’s assumption that the coal industry doesn’t want to see wind power succeed is in error. The coal industry knows that the amount of electricity wind is capable of generating is intermittent and minuscule compared with that of coal. So it’s a double loss for West Virginia; mountain top removal taking the coal fields and wind turbine power plants taking the highest ridges. And then there’s the subject of Marcellus shale natural gas drilling and the undisclosed chemicals pumped into the ground. It’s hard when you feel you have to substitute one evil for another.

  2. This was the most thorough and compelling story I've heard on the subject. The loss of the democratic process, the taking over of the political process by corporations was one of the most urgent messages of the story. Corporations don't care that children are breathing in coal dust, are contracting cancer and asthma in alarming and unacceptable rates, that every fresh water fish in America has unhealthy levels of mercury because of the coal industry.

  3. Thank you so very much Bob for having a discussion on this topic this morning. I, for one, had no idea this was going on. I am enraged. Between the destruction of the environment and the resulting injection of toxic chemicals into wildlife and humans in unimaginable quantities – I feel compelled to action (let alone all the deception about a subsidized energy source). I have to imagine anyone who heard this story would be compelled! Thanks, Bob for doing your part. How can we do our part?

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