'Coal Country' Documentary, Aired on Planet Green, Called Potential Threat by PA Dept of Homeland Security

coal country threat screengrab

I don't know if we should be flattered or scared: It's come to TreeHugger's attention that Coal Country, a documentary which originally aired on Planet Green's Reel Impact series of programing last November, was singled out at the time as a potential security threat by the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security--the same department that spied on anti-fracking activists and reported them to the drilling companies.


Page 6 of a November 16, 2009 briefing from the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response--one of fourteen such documents dating from Nov 9, 2009 though August 2010, some of which are reproduced on State of Pennsylvania letterhead--reads:

'Mountaintop Removal' Debate Heats up
Throughout the next two months, Planet Green will air 'Coal County‟, a
documentary promising to "reveal the truth about modern coal mining". The
schedule is as follows:
  • 19 November: 10:30PM ET
  • 20 November: 2:30PM ET
  • 20 December: 12:00PM ET
  • 24 December: 10:30PM ET
  • 25 December: 2:30PM ET

Though Pennsylvania mountains have not been subjected to mountaintop mining as of yet, the waste materials from mountaintop mining in other states has been dumped into streams in Pennsylvania, reportedly causing damage to the environment.

On October 15 2009, over 300 people attended a public hearing at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh to discuss the Obama administration's decision to restrict mountaintop removal-related permits. Security was heavy.


TAM-C analysts view this film as a potential catalyst for inspiring "direct action" protests or even sabotage against facilities, machinery, and/or corporate headquarters.

TAM-C analysts have identified local energy facilities that anti-coal activists have marked as conspiring in the mountaintop removal process. Such facilities include (but are not limited to):

  • Reliant Energy's Titus Power Plant (Berks County)
  • Exelon Energy's Eddystone Generating Station (Delaware County)
  • Reliant Energy's Cheswick Power Plant (Allegheny County

Actions against these facilities would likely cause counter-protests from the pro-coal side, which TAM-C analysts believe already feels assaulted, not only by environmentalists, but by any governmental bodies and/or policies that support them.

TAM-C analysts will continue to monitor this documentary as well as the larger issue to determine whether destructive rhetoric or actions are being planned by either camp.

The same document also details potential threats from anarchist groups in the United States during COP15, actions by Spanish anarchists to "boast and teach", and potential activity by "international jihadists" in the Netherlands in response to an unnamed film wherein the nation is referred to "the infidel Netherlands" and which a unidentified writer asks, "I say to all the Muslims in the Netherlands--will you sit quietly? If you can't bomb them, then you have no excuse. Burn their houses and their cars."

All inflammatory stuff, no doubt.

And then there's Coal Country, following right behind a call to burn houses and cars. There is certainly different analysis of the relative threat levels of both highlight points, with the documentary deemed the lesser of the four presented in the briefing.

The other documents obtained by TreeHugger contain similar analysis, with mention of groups like Rainforest Action Network and various Tea Party-esque groups, right alongside established terrorist organizations.

In all cases, the predicted threat level from the environmental groups is deemed much lower than others, but a disturbing trend permeates throughout: Any protest against the status quo that may disrupt business is seen as a threat. Which it is to those businesses. But is it to people? Who is being protected? Corporations or community? In each of these documents the message is clear, corporations and banks are more deserving of protection than ordinary people.

I wonder if ITRR was being paid by community to analyze the risk to them from the excesses of the financial sector and Wall Street, from continued mountaintop removal mining and the burning of coal in general, from continued depletion of the world's resources by a handful of multinational corporations... it would be interesting to see how the perspective would be entirely reversed.

Oh, and as the note about the public hearing indicates, apparently if you attend events central to the democratic process, let alone take to the streets in protest, make no mistake about it, in Pennsylvania, you are being watched.

Here's the full document itself: PAIB00816November2009.pdf
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More on Activism:
PA Homeland Security Spies on Anti-Drilling Activists, Reports to Drilling Company
McCarthyism by Email: Fomenting Fear of Environmentalists and Tea Partiers Alike
Are Pennsylvania's Fracking Opponents Really Environmental Extremists? Police Think So

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