Razing Appalachia

Sasha Waters. | 72 minutes. Room 135 Productions.

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


In the tradition of recent David-and-Goliath documentaries such as Blue Vinyl and Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town, this quietly heartbreaking film depicts the battle between citizens of Blair, West Virginia, and Arch Coal Inc. over the issue of mountaintop removal mining. Taking its title from a 1999 Mother Jones investigation, Razing Appalachia provides shocking images — not only of “decapitated” mountains but of miles of streambeds entombed by the rocky by-products of such industrial beheading.

Working against the Blair-based activists is the fact that the head of West Virginia’ s department of environmental protection was a coal executive for 17 years. In addition, the end of mining expansion would likely mean the loss of some 400 jobs for union miners in this poverty-stricken region. Alas, these complexities aren’ t done justice by the unsophisticated filmmaking. But director Waters cuts to the heart of the matter when she captures a lifelong resident’ s rebuke of a government official: “You’ re the Environmental Protection Agency,” he says. “You’re not protecting me.”

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate