llnlphotosLawrence Livermore National Laboratory demonstrated coal gasification near Hanna, Wyo.

A few years back, Robert Redford narrated a documentary, Fighting Goliath, that told the epic Texas tale of how a coalition of ranchers, environmentalists, and others banded together in the mid-2000s against a giant power company’s plans to build 11 coal plants that would have belched pollution across the state. The film includes scenes of billowing smoke, militant big-city Texas mayors, and protesters carrying signs crying, “No more coal.” One farmer tells an interviewer, “’Til this thing came about, I always looked the other way when I saw an environmentalist.”

When the dust settled, only three plants were approved, and the rest were killed in a buyout of the power company, despite an effort by Gov. Rick Perry (R) to fast-track the scheme.