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About the Film

Original Film: 89 minutes
PBS Version:
56 minutes
Release Dates: 2008 & 2012
Master Format: HDCam and D-Cinema
Sound: Dolby 5.1

Quick Facts:
36% of US global warming emissions comes from approximately 501 coal-burning power plants - that's more than the emissions from 377 Million cars.

Every eleven and one-half days, the explosive equivalent of the Hiroshima atomic bomb is unleashed upon the mountains of southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky - for coal.

Short Synopsis:
In Burning the Future:  Coal in America, writer/director David Novack examines the explosive conflict between the coal industry and residents of West Virginia.  Confronted by emerging "clean coal"  energy policies, local activists watch a world blind to the devastation caused by coal's extraction.  Faced with toxic ground water, the obliteration of 1.4 million acres of mountains, and a government that appeases industry, courageous residents demonstrate a strength of purpose and character in their improbable fight to arouse the nation's help in protecting their mountains, saving their families, and preserving their way of life.

The film was originally produced in 2008.  An updated, shorter version was created in 2012 for Public Television broadcast.    Since the original film, one of the central figures in the film, Maria Gunnoe, won the Goldman Prize for her work to stop mountain-top removal mining

Filmmaker's Statement:
I invite you to join me on a journey, one I launched with open eyes and an open mind.  As I began filming in the lush mountains of West Virginia, I thought I was telling the story of Coal - the historic role it played in building America, and the incredible position it holds today - providing Americans with half our electricity.  Then I met Maria Gunnoe.  Maria and thousands of people living in Appalachia are under environmental assault.  Their land is destroyed, their loved ones are ill and the mountains they love are being blown away - in the name of "cheap energy"  for every American.  But now, they are fighting to restore their cherished way of life.  And with every new coal-fired power plant proposed across the globe, their fight become harder.  Join me as these true heroes take us by the hand and ask us to live in their shoes for a day, and to think hard about the energy future that we all share.