If most of us have a notion of mountaintop-removal mining, it's that somewhere in Appalachia a bunch of extras from Winter's Bone are getting their view spoiled by some trucks and TNT. But these are real people, and the environmental catastrophe they're experiencing — entire counties turned into flattened moonscapes like you'd expect after a nuclear bomb — is entirely unnecessary, even for a country as coal-addicted as the United States.

If you remember one thing from this video, it should be this: only 7 percent of our nation's coal comes from mountaintop-removal mining. The U.S. is also a significant exporter of coal. So ending the practice isn't about endangering jobs (wind power, which could be sited on the same mountains they're blowing up, generates significantly more) or energy security. It's about ending a practice that poisons the water, irreparably damages millions of acres of land, and enriches sociopaths like Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!