When The Mountains Started Exploding — “Time To Choose” In Coal Country (VIDEO)

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“Boone County, in its day, it was breathtaking.” For anyone who has walked the Appalachians, driven them, or biked the heights of the mountains, the Appalachian Trail, with hundreds of hidden waterfalls, is breathtaking — where the mountains haven’t exploded, that is. Nothing compares. Some days it feels like one is breathing heaven. Time to Choose, showcased by The Huffington Post concurrent with the opening of COP21, is a new film from Oscar-winner Charles Ferguson. The film also shows some of the damage “when the mountains started exploding” — absolute devastation in the coal country of the Appalachians.

Maria Gunnoe reminisces as a native to Boone County and the wonder of the mountains in her youth. “Such a wonderful, peaceful place.” She describes how, as a child, she roamed in the neverending freshness of forest green. “So, when the mountains started exploding,” notes Maria, “of course I was outraged.”

Appalachian Stairway

Nicholas Graham for The Huffington Post describes, “West Virginia and the majestic mountains of Boone County, which appear as an emerald paradise as the camera pans over them in a luxurious flyover in a clip from the latest film by Ferguson.”


Time To Choose is another type of examination of the climate-change crisis on a global level. It brings one to tears after the camera pans the wealth of mountain green and then shows the abysmal gray left after the mountains exploded — the severity of destruction from the fossil-fuel industry in the United States, in Appalachian coal country.

Nicholas Graham quotes Bo Webb: “I had heard of ‘mountain-top removal’, notes Bo, another native West Virginian, ‘but had no clue what it was.’ ”

mountaintop removal

Time To Choose debuted in September at the Telluride Film Festival. It is being screened at two special events in Paris during the critical UN climate-change conference going on there (aka COP21).

Appalachian Dinner Time

Tina Casey for CleanTechnica, with her post, “New Rule For Mountaintop Removal Mining Is A Coal Crusher,” shares some changes in store. And reminds us about a 2009 study commissioned by the organization Appalachian Voices:

Since the 1970s, the coal industry has blasted apart more than 500 of the oldest, most biologically rich mountains in America, and destroyed more than 2,000 miles of headwater streams.

Since 2009, Appalachian Voices has also used Google Earth to compile a before-and-after archive of additional MTR sites.

Related stories on CleanTechnica:

Poor Countries Want 100% Renewable Electricity, Not Coal

Something Missing From New Peak Coal Report

Coal Production Using Mountaintop Removal Mining Decreased By 62% Since 2008

We have been crying out about this for years. Some older pieces from our sister site Planetsave have much more on mountaintop removal coal mining:

The Last Mountain [MOVIE TRAILER]

Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Loses Another Financial Supporter

To Swiss Banking Giant UBS: Get Out of Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining!

Cut the Coal (Going Green Tip #6)

Mountain Heroes: Help Stop Mountaintop Removal Today

Images: Appalachian stairway down the mountainside in Cherokee, NC, by Cynthia Shahan; mountaintop removal image in the public domain; Blue Ridge Appalachian dinner time in Cherokee, NC, by Cynthia Shahan

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Cynthia Shahan

Cynthia Shahan, started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. Words can be used improperly depending on the culture you are in. (Several unrelated publications) She has a degree in Education, Anthropology, Creative Writing, and was tutored in Art as a young child thanks to her father the Doctor.

Cynthia Shahan has 946 posts and counting. See all posts by Cynthia Shahan

5 thoughts on “When The Mountains Started Exploding — “Time To Choose” In Coal Country (VIDEO)

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  • Sickening. Must stop.

    • I think it’s pretty much over in Appalachia. The coal industry is dying fast there. As coal demand drops western, cheaper coal gets almost all the business.

      It’s too bad we can’t force the coal companies to put the mountains back as they were.

      • That reminds me of a slogan of a heavy equipment company “Planet improvements”.
        To me that was an oxymoron, in my opinion planet improvements are lessening your impact on our planet (planting things) not scarring the earth.
        As for your last sentence about forcing companies to put things back together, are there no regulations in the US to do that?

  • The corollary to mountaintop removal is the valley infill. Which is probably even worse.

    I remember seeing images (in National Geographic?) of Appalachian scenery completely obliterated, for miles around, by mining activity. It actually made me cry, a grown man who has lived through apartheid atrocities and much else besides without much cause to loose my cool.

    Whilst I’m pleased that this sort of thing is probably going to end soon, there’s a part of me that wants to hunt down the people who profited from this, and cause them great pain.

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