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Films like this are largely preaching to the choir -- opponents are unlikely to go near it.

But its importance cannot be underestimated. Bill Haney's ecological documentary The Last Mountain traces the horrific ecological fallout from the practice of mountain-top removal that has been employed throughout West Virginia.

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The filmmakers show how local communities, with the help of such national figures in ecology as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Their tormentor is the union-busting, environmental-law-flouting Massey Energy Company and its use of the controversial mining strategy called mountaintop removal.

As Bill Haney's infuriating, straightforward documentary argues, the coal industry is not only poisoning our air and water but our democracy as well. RFK's son , justice, and common sense. But director Bill Haney leavens the lament with a moving portrait of the West Virginia residents who are standing up to the bulldozing — physical and spiritual — to save an Appalachian peak from the fate of its neighbors.

Whether the view is aerial or up close and personal, the documentary presents wrenching evidence that mountaintop removal mining is more expedient for the coal companies — key among them the headline-familiar Massey Energy — and disastrous for just about everyone else. The consequences extend beyond the Coal River Valley communities, which have had to contend with daily explosive blasts, flooding because of depleted topsoil, precariously stored toxic sludge and odds-defying cancer clusters.

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  • And with coal-fueled electricity plants across the country, the events in a West Virginia hollow reverberate nationwide. Among the non-local heroes of the film is Robert Kennedy Jr.

    'The Last Mountain' review: An activist's indictment of Big Coal

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