The Last Mountain

A discussion guide to the compelling documentary, for use in classrooms and communities.

The Last Mountain

The Center for Ecoliteracy presents a companion guide to the acclaimed documentary, The Last Mountain.

"An explosive power the size of a Hiroshima bomb once a week." That's how Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. describes the sheer force of mountaintop removal coal mining in The Last Mountain. This critically acclaimed documentary shines a light on Coal River Valley, West Virginia, where ordinary citizens are trying to stop a devastating practice that literally removes the tops of mountains in order to reach the layers of coal below, destroying whole ecosystems and communities in the process.

How are we connected to this story? Why do coal companies use mountaintop removal? In what ways is the fight over Coal River Mountain a fight about democracy? Do mountains have intrinsic value separate from humans?

The Last Mountain Discussion Guide challenges us to consider these complex questions and many more. Developed by the Center for Ecoliteracy and released by Uncommon Productions, this guide explores four themes suggested by the film:

  • Everyone Is Connected to Coal
  • Private Rights vs. The Common Good
  • Democracy in the Balance
  • The Value of a Mountain

Designed to help students or participants in community discussions get the most out of the film, the Center for Ecoliteracy's Discussion Guide includes thought-provoking questions as well as activities for introducing the themes and taking action. It may be used in a variety of high school courses (such as economics, environmental science, and government) and undergraduate college courses (such as energy and resources, environmental studies, geography, political science, and interdisciplinary studies). It may also be used in a number of community settings, including public screenings and neighborhood gatherings.

The Last Mountain takes an unflinching look at the environmental, health, social, and economic effects of using coal to meet America’s energy needs. It also demonstrates that alternatives exist which are better for both local economies and the environment. Featuring the compelling voices of such activists as 2009 Goldman Prize winner Maria Gunnoe and former Massey Energy contractor Ed Wiley, The Last Mountain is a classic David vs. Goliath story that honors the power of engaged Americans fighting for what is dear to them and shows how the fight for Coal River Mountain affects us all.


Download The Last Mountain Discussion Guide PDF[5.1mb]

Visit The Last Mountain website to view the trailer, order the DVD, and learn more