This week’s post was co-written by Mary Anne Hitt, deputy director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign

“My hope is this superb documentary will shock Americans and create a surge of
urgency that stops the atrocity of mountaintop removal coal mining immediately.”
— actress Ashley Judd

That’s the trailer for the powerful new documentary “Coal Country.” If you haven’t heard about this film yet, you need to take a look at the website and learn more about the devastating effects of mountaintop-removal coal mining.

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Executive producer Mari-Lynn Evans and writer/producer/director Phylis Geller do an incredible job of portraying the controversy between the coal industry and local residents in many Appalachian towns.

We want to spread the word about “Coal Country” because people must know about this destructive practice and get involved to stop it: So we’re giving you the opportunity to see the film before the general public does.

The movie premieres on the Planet Green network on Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. EST, but you can receive a free 45-minute sneak preview DVD of the film by signing up to host a house party the week of Nov. 10-14 with the Sierra Club.

The reviews of this great film are already in — on Tuesday night at Town Hall in New York City, legendary Appalachian musicians shared the stage with activists and celebrities for the New York premiere of this film. It was a tremendous hit with the 1,000+ people in attendance in New York, who were also treated to performances by musicians including Kathy Mattea and Jean Ritchie, artists who donated their time and talents to help advance the cause of ending mountaintop removal.

Geller and Evans bring us the unforgettable and spellbinding story of the troubled, divisive legacy of coal in Appalachia, and they connect the dots to the problems coal causes nationwide, including global warming. The film looks at the reality of mountaintop-removal coal mining, where companies blow off the tops of mountains to reach the coal beneath.

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Some of the people you meet in the film are concerned about jobs and the economy, and they believe they’re acting responsibly in bringing power to the nation’s residents. The movie also features remarkable people whose families have lived in the region for generations, have loved and tended the land, and have mined the coal, and whose lives are now being torn apart, driven from their homes by pollution and blasting.

Sign up to be a host and you’ll also get the opportunity to receive a special message on the night of your house party from actress Ashley Judd, who has worked with the Sierra Club and other organizations to end mountaintop-removal coal mining.

We’ll send you the sneak preview DVD so you and your house party guests can witness the amazing stories of coalfield residents like Judy Bonds, whose life has been threatened numerous times due to her activism, and Chuck Nelson, who worked for decades as an underground miner before becoming a powerful voice for ending mountaintop removal. You and your guests can discuss the film, take action, and call in to hear a message from celebrity guests, Sierra Club leaders, and Appalachian community members featured in the film.

This film continues to become more important as we learn more about the realities of coal power. This week we saw the release of a National Research Council report on the external costs of energy — focusing on “monetizing the damage of major air pollutants — sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, and particulate matter — on human health, grain crops and timber yields, buildings, and recreation.” They tallied up damages of an estimated $120 billion in the U.S. in 2005, and the biggest contributor to that cost was coal, coming in with $62 billion of the tab. One wonders how much higher that number would be if it included the realities of mountaintop-removal coal mining.

More than 500 mountains have been leveled by this coal-mining practice, and more are under threat right now. Many of you reading this post are benefiting from the power generated by the coal mined using this practice — but have no idea what’s going on or the effect it is having on the Appalachian people, and in one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems.

Won’t you take one evening to get together with friends and check out the sneak preview so that we can educate more people and finally put and end to the devastation of our mountain heritage?

P.S.: Remember our “Coal is Too Dirty for College” campaign? The second and third ads are out — watch them here.