Over the last year-and-a-half, I have been working with Northern Plains Resource Council on a series of short films highlighting life in Montana’s coal country. We collected stories from six different people who are affected by coal development from a woman forced to leave her home and business to keep her child safe from coal dust to a Northern Cheyenne activist fighting to keep tribal lands from being confiscated to build a coal-hauling railroad.
Over the course of the year, coal issues evolved. As cleaner sources of energy have come on line and the public’s appetite for the dirtiest fossil fuel wanes, coal mines have closed or failed to open. Companies have filed bankruptcy (often sticking states with massive clean-up costs). Projects have lost battles with regulators for approval.
These changes have led to many revisions to the films, making them more relevant to the fact that while the demand for coal in the US has diminished, it’s still in the ground under our feet. If it becomes economically feasible to mine again, those giant machines will churn to life, threatening livelihoods and health.
I am excited to finally release these six films over the next several days. Enjoy!