"Coal Country" Goes to High Country, Colorado

Roaring Fork Valley and Aspen residents turn out en force for documentary

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Mountaintop removal mining is one of those things in life that you can’t really understand until you’ve seen it. All the blog posts, articles, editorials, and columns in the world combined can’t equal the impact of bearing direct witness to a mountain being razed by explosives, to streams buried in rubble, and to crystal mountain waters running black.

The eye of the actual beholder of this destructive mining practice feels something that words cannot convey. And the person who sees it destroying ancient mountains and forests, and the lives of people who live among them, has a knowledge and experience that can never be imparted by this blog alone.

That’s why Earthjustice was eager to support filmmakers Mari-Lynn Evans and Phylis Geller as they made their moving and stunning documentary on mountaintop removal mining, Coal Country.

In the year since this acclaimed film premiered, it has allowed thousands of people to see mountaintop removal mining and its effects on the people and environment of Appalachia.

Coal Country, which has aired multiple times on the Planet Green network, continues to make its way around the country for public screenings and film festivals. This week, Coal Country came to the land of John Denver’s "Rocky Mountain High" — Aspen, Colorado — for a special free community screening.

The idea was to connect some of America’s most ardent mountaineers and most vigilant protectors of mountain environs with our fight to protect the Appalachian mountains, waterways and people. We hoped that, nestled in the heart of the American Rockies, we would find an audience that could understand why heroes like Judy Bonds and Chuck Nelson and Kathy Selvage have dedicated their lives, against all odds and adversity, to fighting mountaintop removal mining and protecting their hometowns from it.

We were met In Aspen by a strong group of community leaders, environmental stewards and concerned citizens — many of whom vouched afterward that the film opened their eyes and inspired them to take action.

While Coal Country tells the story of champions, this fight needs more champions. We are up against very powerful polluting industries and special interests. It is our hope, with these Coal Country screenings, that we find others to join in the fight and stand up for America’s mountains and waters.

The best part is that regardless of where Coal Country is touring, you can watch it now in the comfort of your own home. Watch the movie trailer here; purchase the DVD here.

And of course, learn more and take action now to help stop mountaintop removal mining. Make your voice heard.

Liz Judge worked at Earthjustice from 2010–2016. During that time, she worked on mountaintop removal mining, national forests, and clean water issues, and led the media and advocacy communications teams.