AMIGOS BRAVOS News:
Amigos Bravos: Because Water Matters is celebrating 26 years of protecting and restoring New Mexico’s waters with a showing of “The Last Mountain,” which is about the devastating effects of mountaintop coal removal in West Virginia’s Coal River Valley, and the way residents and activists successfully stand up to the industry and major employer Massey Coal.
“The Last Mountain,” directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker, Bill Haney, is a Sundance Film Selection. The film will be followed by a big-screen Skype conversation between community organizer Maria Gunnoe of Boone County, W. VA., and Brian Shields, Executive Director of Amigos Bravos. The event is part of the Amigos Bravos Arts & Activism Program and takes place at the Bareiss Gallery on the Ski Valley Road (Highway 150), Tuesday, June 24. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.; screening begins promptly at 7 p.m. Admission is free.
The mission of Amigos Bravos is to protect and restore the waters of New Mexico by holding polluters accountable, restoring watershed health, and building water stewardship. Amigos Bravos’ strategic goal over the next five years is to educate New Mexico’s citizens and policy makers about the water-energy nexus – the crucial relationship between the amount of water used to produce energy and the amount of energy used to manage water – and response to climate change.
Coal mining in the United States (including water for coal washing and cooling of drilling equipment) ranges from 70 million to 250 million gallons per day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Coal-fired power plants use water to extract, wash, and sometimes transport coal; to cool the steam used to make electricity in power plants; and to control pollution from the plants. Mining and burning coal, as well as waste disposal, can have major effects on water quality.
Amigos Bravos and its partners, including Diné Care and San Juan Citizens Alliance, are currently working on coal mining pollution issues in relation to the Four Corners Power Plant and the BHP Navajo Coal Company Mine. The Navajo Coal Company Mine supplies the Four Corners Power Plant. Both have a grim record of spills into the Chaco River, with impacts to the downstream San Juan River. Amigos Bravos advocates for more responsible energy sources and production.
The Last Mountain is meant to remind viewers that we all indirectly support the coal mining industry every time we switch on the lights or turn on the tap. It also demonstrates the importance of grassroots activism, while Robert Kennedy, Jr.’s role as a champion for the impacted Coal River Communities is depicted as a non-grandstanding example of volunteerism that lends celebrity credibility to a legitimate cause.
Maria Gunnoe is a fifth-generation West Virginian of coal-mining heritage. Her advocacy has led to stricter regulations for the industry. Gunnoe was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize and the Callaway Award for Civic Courage. She currently works for OVEC, The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, whose work focuses on environmental and social justice issues in West Virginia.
It is also that time of year when Amigos Bravos hosts their annual fundraiser, The Raffle for the Rio. Proceeds go to support Amigos Bravos’ ability to respond swiftly to emerging issues and to provide strategic support to communities throughout New Mexico, whose waters are being threatened. Tickets are $25 each or five for $100 and include a one year membership. The winner is awarded their choice of a week’s stay for two including airfare to Pisac Inn in Peru near Machu Picchu or $3,000 cash or an acre of beautiful land in Cabestro Canyon north of Taos.
Amigos Bravos also invites you to join Brian Shields and his guests on Thursday, June 26 for a lively discussion every hour on the top of the hour at their annual KTAOS Radio Day, on-air or streaming live at 101.9FM. Opportunities to buy raffle tickets to support Amigos Bravos are at the film screening, by logging on to www.amigosbravos.org or at Cid’s Food Market and KTAOS Radio Station on June 26, or stopping by or calling their office 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday –Thursday at 575.758.3874.