The Last Mountain will make you very, very angry.
A powerful documentary with an important agenda - saving an Appalachian mountain and the people living in the valley below - director Bill Haney's piece of advocacy journalism looks at the heavy costs of "mountaintop removal," a method of coal extraction in which tons of dynamite are used to blow a mountain wide open.
The result, in the words of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the environmental crusader who has been fighting alongside West Virginia locals in their battle against a giant coal company and government officials, is "a denuded moonscape." Hundreds of thousands of acres of denuded moonscape.
The Last Mountain is more than another tale of treehuggers going up against an energy behemoth and its employees (who are, understandably, happy to be employed). It's a tale of politicians in the pockets of Big Coal, of flagrant violations of environmental laws, and of small communities turned into ghost towns by pollution, flooding, and alarmingly high rates of cancer. (In one tiny hollow where the groundwater had been contaminated with heavy metals from toxic sludge, six people, children and adults, were diagnosed with brain tumors.)