Two Ways You Can Help Stop the Otter Creek Coal Mine Today


Tongue River Valley in southeastern Montana
Tongue River Valley in southeastern Montana. Photo by: Alexis Bonogofsky
A friend and mentor told me once, “the energy companies are coming, and they are coming fast, so pick your place and protect it with everything you have.”

Well, it will not be a surprise to any of you that southeastern Montana is my place, and I want it to be yours too. It is a place worth protecting. It is beautiful, remote, rugged and amazing. And it needs your help.

If you are looking for a way to help stop the largest proposed coal mine in the country that will devastate important wildlife habitat and exacerbate climate change, there are two great documentary projects that need your social networks and your money.

Bill McKibben recently stated,

“There are a few crucial choke points on this planet where we have some chance of stanching the endless flow of carbon into the atmosphere. On that list, none may be more important than Montana.”

Clint and Wally McRae - Ranchers whose land would be crossed by the Tongue River Railroad
Clint and Wally McRae, ranchers whose land would be crossed by the Tongue River Railroad. Photo courtesy Sierra Club

1. Things of Intrinsic Worth

Filmmakers Carly Calhoun and Same Desperaux visited my friends Clint and Wally McRae last winter and put together a moving video of their struggle to protect their land and water from leaking coal ash ponds from the nearby Colstrip coal-fired power plant. The video is expertly done and a testament to the filmmakers commitment and dedication to the region.

During their visit to the McRaes ranch they learned about the proposed Otter Creek coal mine and Tongue River railroad.

The goal of the documentary, Things of Intrinsic Worth, is to follow the McRaes as they struggle to save their ranch and the Tongue River Valley from the coal companies who are trying to take their land so they can make billions of dollars in profits from Montana’s natural resources, leaving us with polluted water and devastated land.

Their Kickstarter site rightly states that the McRae’s ranch sits in the epicenter of a battle over the power of corporations, the governments role in protecting citizens and the environment, and the future of the climate. The film weaves together a story that travels from the grasslands of Montana, to the Pacific Northwest, to energy hungry Asian markets.

Click here to help fund Things of Intrinsic Worth.

Andy, Eric and Robin deep in coal country during the initial research trip
Filmmakers Andy, Eric and Robin deep in coal country during the initial research trip

2. Momenta

A second important documentary proposal comes from Plus M Productions and Protect Our Winters and is about the proposed coal exports in the Pacific Northwest, where that coal is coming from in the Powder River Basin and our hopes for a clean energy future.

I met them when they came through the small community of Ashland, Montana, on the border of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, to interview Vanessa and Otto Braided Hair for their trailer.

They are committed to their project and I know they will produce a great documentary. Check out their well done and inspiring trailer for the film that features many dedicated advocates for for our land, water, wildlife and communities including:

  • Ed Gulick – Northern Plains Resource Council, Billings, Montana
  • Otto Braided Hair – Northern Cheyenne Tribal Member and ecoCheyenne founder, Montana
  • Vanessa Braided Hair – Northern Cheyenne Tribal Member and ecoCheyenne founder and organizer, Montana
  • Beth Doglio – ‘Power Past Coal’ Campaign Director, Washington
  • Jason Shogren – Environmental Economist, Professor, Univeristy if Wyoming, member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, Wyoming
  • Jeremy Jones – Professional Snowboarder, Founder of Protect Our Winters
  • Bill McKibben – Environmentalist, Scholar, Author, Founder of
  • LJ Turner – Cattle Rancher, Wyoming

Click here to help fund Momenta

Both documentaries will tell different angles to the same important story. Please help them today and spread the word!