Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2017

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Coal foes hope film riles up Nevadans

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  • Robert Redford, co-producer and narrator of the film, “Fighting Goliath — Texas Coal Wars" talks about the origins of the grass roots efforts that inspired the making of the short film.

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  • Redford discusses the importance of a solution-based approach to informing the public about global warming.

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  • Redford talks about the economical factor associated with global warming and forms of renewable energy.

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  • Redford on the continued use of coal-fired power plants and other forms of non-renewable energy.

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  • Redford talks about why he doesn't support nuclear power as a legitimate form of alternative energy.

Environmentalists said it was a sign that a wave of coal plant proposals across the country was finally ebbing when an unlikely coalition of environmentalists, small-town mayors, ranchers and other citizens persuaded a Texas utility company to scrap plans for eight of 11 new coal-fired power plants last year.

This year they’re saying the coalition’s success is more than an inspiration — it’s a game plan.

Coal opponents, including the Sierra Club and the Nevada Clean Energy Campaign, next week are hosting seven screenings in Nevada and Utah of a movie about the Texas triumph.

They’re hoping the film, Robert Redford’s “Fighting Goliath — Texas Coal Wars,” inspires ordinary Nevadans who oppose the three coal-fired power plants proposed here. Narrated by Redford, the film follows the Texas coalition throughout its effort to kill the coal plants.

“ ‘Fighting Goliath’ is an inspiring movie of people from all walks of life fighting for clean air and future energy stability,” said Lydia Ball, a local representative of the Sierra Club. “Just like in Texas, the state of Nevada has a diverse group of labor, women’s, faith and environmental groups working together to defeat the proposed coal plants.”

Redford said Wednesday there are definitely messages in the film for Nevadans, not just about how to kill a project but also about what their alternatives are.

“I don’t think we get anywhere ... by just saying no. The American way is can-do,” the Academy Award-winner said. “The fact is, Nevada and Utah can do much better than coal-fired power. Without burdening the residents and businesses with coal’s financial risks, both states have bountiful, world-class clean energy resources.”

The Texas coalition succeeded, he said, by bringing together strange bedfellows — such as environmentalists and ranchers.

“It wasn’t too long ago you couldn’t get a rancher and an environmentalist to speak to one another,” he said. “Over the years I’ve seen over and over again the power of grass roots (movements). When they come together they form something strong enough to defeat a giant power company.”

The fight isn’t over in Texas or Nevada. Three coal-fired power plants are proposed in Nevada and 11 are still planned in Texas.

Redford said utilities are trying to push through coal plants in the last days of the Bush administration, which he characterized as “ideologically stuck ... in the past.”

America should have been researching renewable energy 30 or 40 years ago, he added.

But he also said “Fighting Goliath” is a hopeful film. Redford saw an early version of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and warned the former vice president that he needed less gloom and doom and more time for solutions.

“You have to give space to what we can do about it,” Redford said.

The film is to be shown free to the public at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Theatre des Artes at Paris Las Vegas and is to be followed by a panel discussion on the potential for a clean energy economy in Nevada, and how the state can move beyond using coal to provide electricity. Panelists are to include Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani; Chris Brooks, renewable energy director at Bombard Electric; Tim Hay, former Nevada consumer advocate; Nevada Treasurer Kate Marshall; and Rose McKinney-James, a former Public Utilities Commission member.

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