Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"The Last Mountain" in La Grande

By Brian Kelly, HCPC Restoration Coordinator

Photo of Oregon's only coal-fired electric plant at Boardman (photo courtesy of Columbia Riverkeeper).

Coming soon to a theatre near HCPC is fascinating film about coal in America. The Last Mountain tells the story of people in rural Appalachia fighting back against a large energy corporation bent on destroying a mountain to feed the hunger for coal.

“Mountain Top Removal” is a process where mountains are literally blown apart with dynamite to expose seams of coal. Forests are destroyed forever. Creeks are obliterated and the valleys downstream flooded. Wildlife habitat is gone. Local people suffer from high rates of cancer and autism. The explosives used each week equal the force of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. And all of this goes on today right here in the United States of America.

People outraged over environmental and social destruction in Appalachia organized at the grassroots level and began non-violent resistance against the Massey Energy Corporation. The corporation seems to buy politicians and ignore the law with impunity. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. got involved and has helped the local activists in their fight against the corporate giant. The Last Mountain tells this story cinematically and in a compelling way.

I am pleased to be a member of a panel discussion that will follow the screening of The Last Mountain on Friday, October 21 at 5:30 PM at the Granada Theatre, 1311 Adams Avenue in La Grande.

I will be proud to speak about HCPC’s success in stopping the burning of coal at Oregon’s only coal-fired electric plant near Boardman. The Boardman coal plant has been shown to pollute the air over the Eagle Cap and Hells Canyon Wilderness Areas. The plant is Oregon’s largest stationary source of acid rain causing sulfur dioxide and haze producing nitrogen oxides. It is the state’s second largest source of mercury pollution. HCPC and our allies recently settled a lawsuit whereby the plant will stop burning coal by 2020, reduce pollution in the interim period, and fund environmental projects including restoration work in the Eagle Caps and Hells Canyon.

The panel discussion will focus on energy production and use as well as what people can do at the local level to conserve energy and promote renewable energy.

The Last Mountain will be shown as part of The Eastern Oregon Film Festival

The film is sponsored by Oregon Rural Action .

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