Segments in this Video

Activist Grandmother (03:01)


Lorelei Scarbro comes from a coal mining family. Her daughter and son-in-law Kevin Meadows have a new baby. She has become an activist against the coal industry for her grandchildren's sake. (Credits)

Coal as a Way of Life (03:46)

Betty Harrah's brother Steve works in the mines. Coal River Mountain resident Bill Price discusses the industry's power and influence over the community.

Massey Energy (03:39)

Overburden refers to the rock, soil, and ecosystem above a coal seam. Don Blankenship is the industry's highest paid CEO but his company violates safety regulations and has high injury rates.

Fighting the Coal Industry (02:17)

In 2007, Massey Energy applies for mountaintop removal permits to mine 6,600 acres of Coal River Mountain. Scarbro and other community members oppose the proposal at a hearing.

Wind Energy Alternatives (03:50)

Scarbro and Price mobilize Coal River Mountain community members around a project with research analyst Rory Mcilmoil. Ridges have sufficient wind speeds for a wind farm, which would provide jobs and diversify the economy.

Wind Resolution (04:09)

Mcilmoil and Scarbro lobby West Virginia congress members to pass legislation for a wind farm on Coal River Mountain. The resolution dies in committee. Harrah believes West Virginia would be a welfare state without the coal industry.

Direct Action (02:58)

In September 2008, Massey Energy announces plans to blast Coal River Mountain. After trying to get a meeting with the governor, Scarbro and Mcilmoil organize a protest. Manchin refuses to rescind the permit.

Fighting for Family (04:49)

Scarbro's son-in-law works for Massey Energy; there are no job alternatives to mining. Scarbro discusses leaving an abusive marriage; her second husband Kenny died of black lung. She fights the coal industry to give workers choices and rights.

Civil Disobedience (05:57)

Economic diversification would weaken the coal industry's power. Mcilmoil chains himself to a bulldozer to protest Massey Energy; his group is arrested for trespassing. Mcilmoil's team leads rallies after gaining national media coverage; coal miners feel environmentalists threaten their livelihoods.

Protesting at the E.P.A. (05:00)

Scarbro travels to Washington, D.C. with her message of economic diversification and attends a rally against mountaintop removal. The E.P.A. announces a crackdown on mountaintop removal mining and then rescinds it under pressure from Manchin and the coal industry.

Shifting Mining Mindsets (03:28)

Scarbro sees footage from a mining blast on Coal River Mountain. Mcilmoil reflects on starting the conversation on economic diversification through the wind farm campaign. He is leaving to work with an environmental research firm.

Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster (03:55)

On April 5, 2010 an explosion kills 25 miners in Whitesville, including Harrah's brother.

Community on Mourning (02:11)

Scarbro attends a vigil for 29 miners killed in the Upper Big Branch Disaster. Harrah is angry at Massey Energy; independent investigations determine the company committed industrial homicide.

Holding Massey Energy Accountable (05:07)

Harrah agrees to speak against irresponsible mining practices. Blankenship insists the company is complying with safety regulations, but investigations reveal they misled inspectors. Scarbro and Harrah attend a meeting with Delaware's attorney general to revoke Massey Energy's corporate charter.

Hard Times (05:29)

The coal industry is declining with increased scrutiny over safety and competition from natural gas. Scarbro's home is repossessed; she hopes to heal her community. Harrah visits her brother's grave and hopes the mining industry can learn from his death.

Justice for Miners (02:56)

In November 2014, Blankenship is indicted on charges related to the Upper Big Branch disaster. Scarbro and Harrah reflect on overcoming differences to take on the coal industry. Blankenship's trial will begin in 2015.

Credits: Overburden (02:56)

Credits: Overburden

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3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This is the story of a fiery, pro-coal right-winger and a tenacious, environmentalist grandmother as they take on the most dangerous coal company in America. These two lives intertwine as Betty and Lorelei unite to rebuild their fractured community.

Length: 66 minutes

Item#: BVL186852

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

"Telling a powerful story that will remind some viewers of Barabara Kopple's Oscar-winning 1976 documentary HARLAN COUNTY U.S.A., this fine film mixes gripping personal stories with a look at larger socioeconomic issue. Highly recommend." - Video Librarian

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