Jan 7, 2010: From Diane Rehm Show on mountaintop removal coal mining

WASHINGTON, DC — “Today, Thursday morning at 10:00 AM Eastern time, Diane Rehm’s National Public Radio show will concentrate on mountaintop removal coal mining. Rehm’s guests will include, Joe Lovett, Executive Director of Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment in Lewisburg, West Virginia; Judy Bonds, Co-Director of Coal River Mountain Watch; Siobhan Hughes, reporter for the Wall Street Journal covering energy and the environment; Tom Hamburger, an investigative reporter who covers the White House and executive branch for the Los Angeles Times; Mari Lynn Evans, producer of the film “Coal Country”, and Roger Horton, founder of Citizens for Coal,” Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

Mari-Lynn Evans, filmmaker, calling from Akron: We worked for four years on our documentary film, Coal Country. Joe Lovett and Judy Bonds are both in it. One of the things that really struck me during this four year process was how the intimidation just continued to increase during that time period.

Diane Rehm: What kind of intimidation?

Mari-Lynn Evans: We at first, of course, saw the initimidation that was happening to the residents like Judy [Bonds], who are forced to protect themselves and to have surveillance cameras around their houses because there’s been so many threats to them. The first premiere of our film — which is a balanced film, it shows both sides of the issue, the pros and cons of mountaintop removal — two days before the premiere, the theater cancelled it due to security concerns. When we were able to reschedule it two days later at the capitol, we had to have West Virginia state police there, some of them in riot gear, to protect all the the people — I think there were over a thousand people, a full house — just watching thge film. All through the film, it was like watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show. People were screaming and yelling, even with the presence of all the security there. There were pro-coal representatives that had to be removed from that location. Since then we have other screenings in the coal fields that were cancelled due to threats. I’ve received threats. My videographer has been arrested and has received threats. Unless you’re down there, you don’t . . We’re losing the mountains were losing the water, were losing the air of our beloved Appalachian mountains. We’re losing the people and those communities. People cannot live there. The people who do live there and are speaking out about it, as happened at that public hearing in West Virginia with the Army Corps of Engineers, people are literally removed by the police and are not allowed to speak publicly about this issue.

Diane Rehm: I want to give Roger Horton an opportunity to respond.

Roger Horton, Citizens for Coal: I would simply say that no one should threaten anyone. . .

Diane Rehm: Well, of course not, but she’s talking about what did happen, not what should happen. Can you comment on what did happen?

Roger Horton: No, ma’am. I was not there. .

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7 Responses to Jan 7, 2010: From Diane Rehm Show on mountaintop removal coal mining

  1. Randall Maggard says:

    I really think Mari-Lynn embellished her story quite a bit. Did she forget to say that she was INVITED to an active coal mining operation and was welcomed by the miners there. The vast majority of the procoal attendees at the Charleston premier were the employees of the mine where she filmed. They thought the film was VERY unbalanced and did express their dissatisfaction. Also I would like to ask Mari-Lynn , where exactly were the police in riot gear? I was there the entire time and sure didn’t see any.
    Also, exactly how many people had to be REMOVED by police?????
    I did see a couple of verbal exchanges after some miners were taunted by some anti-mining attendees. I personally intervened and NO ONe was removed.
    It’s talk like this that adds fuel to the fire . Mari-Lynn I am very disappointed in your comments.
    I guess it never entered your mind to have me at the NPR interview.
    Roger Horton is a good man but he wasn’t able to refute your comments.
    Also did you forget to say that I personally went over to meet and speak with Judy Bonds and Maria Gunnoe?
    YOU TOLD ME you wanted this film to help people understand each others side and to promote a positive dialogue…..NOT foster hostilities.
    Remember, I have attended some of your other showings and I have not been met with open arms.
    Mari-Lynn, I would really appreciate a response.

    • Mari-Lynn Evans says:

      As always, I am happy to respond to any of your comments or questions.
      I hope you agree that Coal Country has certainly helped bring dialog to the discussion of MTR and coal. You have played a central role in making that happen.
      I am sure that viewers of the film know that we were invited to your site. It’s pretty clear when you are seen on camera over a period of several months that you were participating. We appreciate that as do the many people who have seen your story.
      We appreciate Argus having the courage of their convictions and allowing you to particpate.
      I also want to convey that I did not book the guests for NPR. The publicity and the events you have discussed are things I have no control over. However, NPR did invite Roger Horton to particpate. I would agree with you that he was unable to refute my comments. How could he refute them? He only has to read the many newspaper reports about our Charleston premier. We were cancelled due to “security concerns” and then police were needed at the premier when it was held. We also had to pay for extra security to ensure the safety of the 1000 or so in attendance. And yes, it was so confrontational at points that you were a key to calming down several of the “pro coal” people in attendance.
      Photos from Climate Ground Zero show just how heated the audience was, during and after the screening.
      I will say, again, that I welcome any opportunity to speak to a “pro coal” group about Coal Country. To date, we have not been invited by any company or group to screen the film. It is impossible to have dialog when only one side of the issue wants to talk about the issue.
      I did not intend my comments about the intimidation and threats to contribute to the hostilities. It is my hope that the truth about the intimidation and threats will be dealt with by the proper authorities.
      Our role is to shine a light on this issue. How people respond to what they see is their responsiblity. We did not expect that everyone would have the same perspective, just as those interviewed have different opinions on the issue.
      I have the upmost respect for your time and your willingness to appear on camera to support your postiton, your beliefs, and your passion. I indeed hope that this film will create an environment for people to discuss this issue. I would hope you would be proud of your contribution, as I am of mine.
      Thank you again for telling your story, and have a blessed New Year.

      • Randall Maggard says:

        As best that I can remember no anti- mining groups have invited me to speak at any of the showings . In my opinion this makes them just as guilty of trying to promote one agenda as the pro-coal groups.

        Any explanations????

        Token Coal Guy,
        aka Randy

  2. Mari-Lynn Evans says:

    It is unfortunate for both the activists and the miners that there has not been a road to resolution of the issue of MTR. Nor has there been real movement to create a new economy that will provide long term, good jobs to the coal fields. You cannot drive through the coal counties and not be stunned (and heartsick) by the poverty that continues to exist today. We have put out the story and now it rests on the politicians, EPA, and DEP to do their jobs.
    We hope Coal Country will help people better understand MTR and what’s at stake for Appalachians living and working in the coal fields.

    • Randall Maggard says:

      I am tired of the outside portraying Appalachia as poor and dumb. You could have just as easily shown film clips of nice homes in the region but you are just as guilty as the others.
      When I made my trip to Washington DC to participate in a farce of a senate hearing I was appalled at the poor homeless people lying on sidewalks around some of our beloved national monuments in our nations Capitol. Did coal mining cause their problems too.
      Our entire nation has a massive unemployment problem so any attempts at changing Appalachia’s ” problems ” i’m sure will be way down on any list.
      I’d much rather be in Kentucky or West Virginia now than California or Michigan. Our unemployment numbers are much lower and our cost of living is much less.
      If you want to help Appalachia so much why not start by moving back to West Virginia. We need people to live here not just ” visit “. But to live hear you have to be able to earn a living.
      What did you think of the election yesterday in Mass. ?
      I know we have different political beliefs, but in my opinion it’s not the governments job to create jobs , thats best left to the private sector.
      I’ll get off my soapbox now.
      Any follow up comments?

      Token Coal Miner

      • Mari-Lynn Evans says:

        Coal Country is a film we made and I worked for years to be able to show both sides speaking to the issues and concerns of coal mining. You know that it was a real struggle to find people to speak from a pro coal position. The film does show both sides. You are in it.
        The film was produced by my company and I did disclose our funders to you. Climate Action Network is not one of our funders. Further, the film does not represent anyone’s agenda. We produced the film and we did the final edit.
        Considering we shot for almost 3 years, I am sure you must understand that with hours and hours of footage not everything could end up in a 90 minute documentary, including the Stream Cleanup you mentioned. There were many protests from Coal River Mt Watch, OVEC, RAN, and others that were also not in the film although we shot them.
        I have spent the last 9 years of my life making films based in Appalachia, and I grew up in WV. I , too, have long been concerned about the portrayal of Appalachians as “poor and dumb” and the impact it has had on economic development. However, it would have been disingenuous at best to have shown expensive houses on the screen at the time when we are talking on film about the coal fields being one of the poorest regions in America. The facts are that even with all the natural resource wealth, and the vast sums of money being paid to coal companies and their CEOs, the people that are living in the coal fields of WV are some of the most economically deprived people in America.
        I am so proud to be from WV. I certainly would hope that you would not deny my passion for and commitment to Appalachia. Do you think that every coal company CEO or CFO has to live every day in WV (like you seem to think I do) in order to show their commitment to the region?
        I do hope the debate over MTR will result in a better Appalachia for everyone. We need to have good jobs for everyone living there, and we need a healthy environment . Both these goals can be accomplished.
        We are Mountaineers and we are a proud people who love our place in this world.
        Thank you again for your comments.

        • Randall Maggard says:

          I’m pretty sure when I asked about who was sponsoring or paying for the film you told me that was not a issue because you where making a balanced documentary. Do you remember my comments after my initial viewing about seeing the Sierra Club and the Natural Resource Defense Council logos come up on the screen at the end of the film…..That was my first knowledge of who was paying for the film. Do you remember talking to me about removing them along with some of your other concerns? Have you forgotten all of that?
          What about the interviews with Glenn or his dad? what about the interview with Frealin Browning and his wife? If you had included them things would have been MORE balanced. I was not the only one who spoke on film and had positive things to say about mining..
          By the way I got a call today from someone in Colorado who used to work for a governmental agency in WV but now works in Colorado and he complemented my input on the film but felt it was very one sided against coal.
          I’ll keep trying.

          Token Coal Miner

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