Sierra Club Hosts 850 Parties to Preview Film, Take Action

Film Star Ashley Judd Delivers Special Message to Thousands as they Watch Coal Country, ask Obama Administration to End Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

San Francisco — This week thousands of Americans are gathering at more than 850 parties organized by the Sierra Club to watch the award-winning documentary, Coal Country, and to take action to stop mountaintop removal coal mining. Coal Country is a stunning film that reveals the devastation of mountaintop removal coal mining to the forests, streams, and communities of Appalachia. More than 4,000 people are expected to attend the parties to organize their communities and to take action. Sierra Club is an underwriter and national outreach partner of Coal Country.

After viewing the 40-minute preview version of Coal Country, friends and neighbors will discuss the film and the need to move beyond coal. Attendees will then dial in to hear a special message from film star Ashley Judd — who was raised in Kentucky — and a former coal miner in West Virginia who is featured in the film. They will then draft letters to the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality urging them to enact rules to stop mountaintop removal coal mining.

“The fact that people across the country are gathering with their neighbors to watch this powerful film, to learn about mountaintop removal coal mining and to take action should send a clear message to the Obama administration,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Deputy Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “To prevent further destruction, the Obama administration must adopt new rules to preserve the mountains, streams and communities of Appalachia, including preventing the use of mining and other waste materials to pollute the region’s waterways.”

Some notable Coal Country house parties include:
• In Portland, Oregon, attendees at a Washington Theater screening are learning how coal impacts Oregon despite its distance from Appalachia’s coalfields and the local efforts to break Oregon’s coal habit
• In Binghamton, New York, students are using the attention around Coal Country to call upon the university administration to stop burning dirty coal in the central heating plant on campus.
• In Little Rock, Arkansas, Coal Country screens at the Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church as part of its Creation Care Film series, aimed at empowering stewards of the earth.

Students are also involved. The Sierra Student Coalition and Sierra Club’s Campuses Beyond Coal Campaign has ignited students at colleges across America, with more than 150 campuses hosting their own screenings of Coal Country.

The Coal Country world television premiere will be November 14th at 8 p.m. ET on Planet Green. Coal Country’s executive produce is Mari-Lynn Evans, and the writer/producer/director is Phylis Geller.

The film is also available for purchase on DVD, along with a CD soundtrack, the proceeds from which support efforts to end mountaintop removal coal mining.

To be released by Sierra Club Books in November, the companion volume Coal Country: Rising Up Against Mountaintop Removal provides additional insight into the voices and issues put forth by the film through a series of essays, photos, and personal histories. The book features notes from the film’s personalities as well as writing from Wendell Berry, Silas House, and Denise Giardina and entertainers Ashley Judd, Loretta Lynn, and Kathy Mattea.

For more information visit

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10 Responses to Sierra Club Hosts 850 Parties to Preview Film, Take Action

  1. Baltidome says:

    Please help to support a project aimed at creating more sustainable jobs for coal miners and reducing negative environmental impacts in Appalachia. For information visit:

  2. Randy Maggard says:

    It’s really funny ,I started searching sites within 200 miles of my home and couldn’t find any house parties registered. Then I tried a zip code for NY City and found none . Then I tried a zip code for Washington DC, and found none. I finally found TWO when I entered for a 200 mile radius from a zip code for Los Angeles…..So my question is are there REALLY 850 house parties or is this just a bunch more false propaganda spread by the Sierra Club??????
    Any responses???
    Also to any party goers out there, remember you’re only viewing the edited and I mean EDITED Sierra Club INFOMMERICIAL VERSION.


  3. Citizen Harry says:

    When are you going to answer my questions, Randy? People are watching this blog, and you’re still dodging the issues, sending up smoke that’s points away from some basic questions. I asked in another post about slurry ponds, and clean water. Please explain the coal companies view of how safe a 9 billion gallon pond of “clean coal” waste like arsenic, mercury, and heavy metals (to start) is safe for the water tables that feed the East Coast. And webmaster… please answer this question, as I’d like to know as well whether Sierra Club info Randy talks about here is BS or real. I agree that we should get to the bottom of “propaganda”, just as Randy suggests.
    Citizen Harry

    • Randall Maggard says:

      If I can find time tonight I will try to answer some of your questions about slurry impoundments and water quality. but for now, Judy Bonds was wrong in her comments about the streams flowing to the East Coast. If she would check or geography, the Coal River flows to the Kanawaha River which flows into the Ohio River which then flows into the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico….A few thousand miles from the East Coast…but then again who needs to bother with the facts.
      About the Sierra Club issue , I took time out of my busy schedule to attend the ” PREMIERE ” of Coal Country at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and what was shown was a 45 minute version that lacked any objectivity whatsoever. This was supposed to be the version to be sent to the ” House Parties “.
      I guess the Sierra Club doesn’t think the attention span of it’s members can’t last for the full length version.
      Please fact check that ….


      • Citizen Harry says:

        Unbelievable. Bait and Switch. A conservative tactic from the Flying Monkey Right! Trying to discredit a person with heart, and soul, in order to further your agenda. SHAME. Judy Bonds isn’t in this because she all of a sudden decided to be a tree hugger. It’s because of black water. Period. I hail Judy Bonds, and the other women in the movie for getting off their ass, and doing something positive. A lot of people in this world just look the other way, or move away. You should be ashamed for saying that Judy Bonds is ignorant. I’d love to see you say that to her face. I’d love that. I’d pay to stand on her lawn just to see her face.

        I’m looking for your response to slurry ponds, I’m sure you’re very versed in what to say, I’ll be looking forward to it. I’m sure you’ll say how safe a multi-billion gallon slurry pond is, and how the runoff is monitored. And how the coal companies haven’t been paying off politicians to get away with Clean Water Act violations. I’ll be waiting for that submission from you.

        But to blame a woman like Judy Bonds who isn’t an expert in geography, or river direction is simply wrong. It’s that sort of focus on stupid facts that have nothing to do with the issue just to bring someone down, or discredit their testimony is just downright rude. You should be ashamed of yourself. She doesn’t paint herself as an expert in the movie, just a concerned citizen.

        No matter what direction those streams run, Randy, the fact that their full of coal sludge, that blackens the rivers, and makes people sick should be the only point. She was just talking about being worried about others downstream. Because BLACK WATER HAS BEGUN TO RUN DOWN HER LOCAL RIVERS AND STREAMS.

        I guess I can say I’m surprised with your mean spirit about this, your credibility as someone who gives a crap about people in the movie is waning in my opinion. Make sure you keep writing, and putting your foot in your mouth.

    • Randy Maggard says:

      In response to Citizen Harry, we refer to them as “Impoundments”, they are highly engineered and monitored structures that take years to permit and even longer to build. I will admit they are imposing structures. but the vast majority of their capacity which we refer to as “acre-feet” ( enough volume to cover one acre one foot deep ) is not in a fluid or liquid phase, so it’s not going anywhere. the material (slurry) is pumped to the structure usually with about 20 % of it as solids. It is typically discharged on the upstream face of the embankment where it quicly settles out and begins to solidify. the clear water drifts to the back of the pool where it is either pumped back to the preparation plant or is discharged into smaller ponds before it flows through approved NPDES discharge locations back into a stream . these discharges are monitored very closely and have strict water quality limits.
      I know everyone always cites Buffalo Creek and the Martin County failures, but please note I think there are over 160 structures in the Appalachian Coalfields with only two failures in the last 37 years. I know a failure is very serious but I think that safety record is very good. Plane crashes occur every year but we continue to fly planes.
      In regard to the metals in Coal Slurry the values are not much different than if you analyzed the rock and dirt you could find on any road cut in coal mining areas.
      For example one metal that is often cited is Selenium which usually occurs in concentrations of 10 to 20 mg/kg in coal slurry while typical household products can contain over 100 times that value and people use them everyday with little thought. One item… dandruff shampoo ( like “HEAD and SHOULDERS” ) contains over 4,600 mg/kg of Selenium. So really you would have much less exposure to Selenium if you ” washed “your hair in coal slurry.
      I know this won’t answer all your questions but continue to ask, I welcome the exchange of ACCURATE information.

      Sorry for the delay in responding.

      (One of the Maggards)

  4. Citizen Harry says:

    Oh, I didn’t read this one about slurry impoundments before I wrote that last one… but my last entry still stands… I’ll see what kind of ACCURATE information I can find about slurry impoundments. “Plane crashes occur every year, but we continue to fly planes?” That’s deep thinking. Keep it up.

    • Randy Maggard says:

      What, no responses about ONLY two incidents in 37 years or thayt people use Selenium everyday?
      By the way if people stuck to the facts and not sheer emotion maybe we coul;d get to the truth…. what about the ” EDITED” version promoted by the Sierra Club….no comments…


    • Randy Maggard says:

      To Citizen Harry, Please tell me what I said that was “FACTUALLY” incorrect?


  5. Citizen Harry says:

    Slurry ponds do contain selenium, arsenic, mercury, all in so called “safe” amounts. Just to name a few horrors that exist in slurry ponds. Selenium poisoning of water systems may result whenever new agricultural runoff courses through normally dry undeveloped lands. This process leaches natural soluble selenium compounds (such as selenates) into the water, which may then be concentrated in new “wetlands” as the water evaporates. High selenium levels produced in this fashion have been found to have caused certain congenital disorders in wetland birds. And the dams haven’t proved to be safe, even if most of them have lasted a few decades. If I lived under one, I would move, but then I have the means to move. Some of us do use “Head and Shoulders” shampoo, etc. pouring selenium on our heads, because the FDA calls it “safe”. I use an organic shampoo product that has put some thought into what we should put on our bodies, and down our drains.

    Let’s talk about some other “safe” stuff. Deodorants, and Antiperspirants are mostly aluminum based, and aluminum poisoning is now being studied as a cause for Alzheimers, etc. in younger and younger people. So I choose to buy a natural organic deodorant, and wash more often. Phenolalanine, Asparteme, which goes into “Diet” drinks is “safe” as well. And there is evidence that it causes lowered kidney function, and other problems, especially in women. For tens of thousands of years, early humans did not drink things like “Coke”, and probably had very little “diabetes”. So I have a choice, given some education about the issue… I choose to drink water. McDonalds, which is the “great American restaurant” sells some of the worst food for human consumption, and has contributed to a fat society, bringing health care costs way up. I choose to buy from my local organic food co-op, and support local farmers. All these things I have a choice to use, or not use in my daily life. However… a slurry pond, and its unknown long term effects on the water system is something that is thrust up on me, just as the pollution in our rivers and streams, and the smokestacks belching millions of tons of Carbon Dioxide. The destruction of the mountain tops, and the natural flora and fauna of the great Appalachian forests is lost forever, no matter how you “reclaim.”

    I understand that my computers, and electricity come partially from coal. I also drive a car, and so fossil fuels are definitely part of my life, and have enhanced our lives in many ways. So, too, could wind power, solar panels, alternative fuels, conservation of energy we have now, and recycling.

    I’ve also noticed how because of our perceived “affluence”, we throw things into landfills because it’s easier to buy new than to repair old. That makes the manufacturing of new things shoddy, as they will inevitably have a short life, and so the circle continues toward lower quality, less jobs, and more pollution. That’s why businesses have left to move to Mexico, and other places where they can pay slave wages. The way we consume has lost us jobs, and made things worse for us as a nation.

    Green energy solutions will create jobs, and enable us to stop polluting the environment as much, and stop the emissions in the air, destruction of the planets resources, and the need for things like “slurry” ponds.

    Why you can’t admit to the fact that should we begin to work towards green jobs, like solar, wind power, etc., and decrease the use of coal. I’m not suggesting we shut down mining, but we all know that MTR stirp mining is just the most cost effective way of creating big profits for coal companies, and not in the best interest of coal miners. Less miners work in those facilities than did underground, and Massey Energy has been a Union buster, for many years. The story that coal companies are concerned so much with the lives of their workers is not true on a broad scale. The only green thing the coal companies are concerned with is Benjamin Franklin… printed on as much green as they can stuff into a bank.

    You can argue and complain about us “tree huggers”, but it won’t change the fact that we are a new generation of people who are fed up just accepting things “the way they are”. You don’t seem to be really concerned with the future, just with your own job, or you’d be more friendly with the rest of the human race who aren’t on the coal bandwagon. If we survive another fifty years, your kids will be forced into “green” jobs, because there won’t be any “black” ones left, and we’ll be trying to catch up, and clean up if possible.

    I’ve been watching the Jeff Corwin series called “100 Heartbeats” which chronicles global extermination of species. Scientists are now starting to believe that the loss of species is moving so fast that it may rival the extermination of species in the dinosaur age. All due to our “safe” practices as human beings. It’s time to educate ourselves, and do all we can to stop these polluting practices.
    You don’t talk much about conservation, and I never hear the pro coal people talk about turning the lights off, just turning the lights on, and keeping them on. If, through movies like this, we all realize that we could do a lot ourselves by reducing drastically the amount of energy we consume, it would at least help slow down the need to mine so much so fast. You’re right, it isn’t your fault that you do the job you do. It’s part of the culture. Unfortunately, it’s part of a culture that is destroying itself.

    I do appreciate my computer, and my electricity, and realize that much of it has come from coal power. Much of the educational advances in the past few decades have been enhanced by those computers, fired by electricity. And so the general public that cares to educate themselves with them, have now begun to awaken to the lies we’ve been told by big multi-national companies, and politicians that are paid off routinely. I hail your efforts at trying your best to reclaim. If you spent part of the boundless energy you have calling the rest of us “un-American”, and help be a part of the solution, you would really be of benefit to the US future economy.

    But if you became an outspoken proponent of green energy, you’d probably be in jeopardy of losing your job. Or would the coal company you work for, that cares so much for the future of peoples lives be in support of that? No, it would fire your ass in a minute, because it cares only about profits, and keeping the coal trains moving. It’s the same with gasoline. War is what comes from this kind of thinking. It’s not anti-American, of course, we’ve always just taken what we need with no thought of anyone else. We’ve killed the Native Americans, and rounded them up into reservations. Was that just “progress?”… Some of us won’t deal with that sort of thinking anymore. I’m not calling the US bad. The Constitution is sound in theory. But freedom comes with responsibility.

    I’m glad to be a part of society that endeavors to be kind to each other, the planet, tries to educate myself, my kids, and and have a social conscience. I keep my thermostat down, turn lights off unless I’m using them, and at least try to move forward in a thoughtful manner. Let’s stop all this name calling, and try to work towards a world where we appreciate the good things about each other, and be open minded.

    Lastly, I don’t have any way of finding out whether the Sierra Club has indeed met their goal of house parties. And if they’re guilty of the same thing big coal companies have been guilty of… manipulating data for their own purposes, they should be ashamed of themselves. I’m against that sort of thing, as well, as we all should be. You’re right in pointing out that maybe other big conglomerates with agendas might do this sort of thing. But two wrongs don’t make a right, and I would be the first to stand up and condemn Sierra Club if they were found to be doing that. Right now I don’t have enough information make a judgment. But there is a thing called “inferential cognizing”, which means that if you see smoke rising from a chimney in a cabin in the valley, you don’t have to actually see the fire in the fireplace to infer that there is probably a fire there. I can see smoke rising all over the Appalachians through the black water, dying poor people, and the economically ravaged economies in “Coal Country”.

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