Saturday, July 17, 2010

Coal Country

Planet Green is currently airing the documentary "Coal Country." The film is a powerful exposé on the devastating environmental impacts and human health risks associated with mining for coal in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland.

Perhaps the most poignant scene in the film involves a woman from eastern Ohio who has lived on the same plot of land since it was given to her family after an ancestor died in the Revolutionary War. For generations her family raised horses, chickens and cattle on their farm. But then a coal-fired power plant moved in to her hallow close to the coal fields of eastern Ohio. She immediately noticed the air, water and soil in her area became contaminated and cancer rates increased.

She pointed out the stark choice many coal country residents believe they have to face: coal mining jobs or not getting cancer by kicking out the coal companies.

Thankfully there is a powerful push by coul country residents to end mountaintop removal and fight against the false answer of carbon capture and sequestration, which many experts say is decades away from reality and even then there is no certainty that the carbon will actually stay underground.

But there are alternative energy solutions in places like West Virginia that can both create jobs and protect the environment and the health of the people who live there. There is a group of activists fighting for clean energy jobs in Coal River Mountain, West Virginia. They want to see wind farming instead of strip mining.

Maybe this success story from the former coal mining area of Lausitz in eastern Germany will provide inspiration to these wind power activists. Just like Coal Country U.S.A. this area was once a major energy provider but fell on hard times. Now, the region gets around 40% of their power from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass and biofuel. And the renewable energy sector employs more than 5,000 people in Brandenburg. Click here for the full story.

Here is the trailer for "Coal Country":

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