Review: ‘Blood on the Mountain’ Looks at the Ravages of Coal Mining – by Neil Genzlinger (New York Times – November 17, 2016)

“Blood on the Mountain” is a clumsily made attack on the coal industry in West Virginia, but it benefits considerably from the events of the past two weeks.

The film jumps around chronologically and thematically in a way that dilutes its impact, but it still provides plenty of cause to question the wisdom of President-elect Donald J. Trump’s stated intentions of reviving coal mining and reducing environmental and other regulations.

The film, by Mari-Lynn Evans and Jordan Freeman, traces the unpleasant history of coal in West Virginia, including obvious black marks like the 2010 explosion at a Massey Energy Company mine, in which 29 people died, and less obvious ones like vanishing pension and health care benefits.

Coal companies have carried out a sort of mass brainwashing, the film suggests, using their status as the only significant employer around to generate support even among the workers they are exploiting and exposing to hazardous conditions.

Most interesting in light of Mr. Trump’s campaign pledge to increase the number of coal industry jobs is a segment that suggests expanded coal production would not generate a significant number of jobs because mountaintop-removal mining methods now in use are not as labor intensive as underground mining was.

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