"Texans Beat Big Coal, And a Film Shows How"

Cheerleading for Robert Redford and his alliance of environmentalists against Big Coal - in the news section.

How does an obscure half-hour documentary merit a two-column story in the news section of the Times? If it pits liberal environmentalist heroes against energy company villains, as in Ralph Blumenthal's Saturday tale,"Texans Beat Big Coal, And a Film Shows How."

Notice that Blumenthal placed no quotation marks around "big coal," evidence that the paper at least subconsciously buys into the leftist assumption of energy companies as soulless corporate behemoths. Blumenthal even swiped his lede from the title of leftist actor Robert Redford's documentary.

David had only a slingshot. Texans fighting big coal have Robert Redford.

A year after an uproar over pollution forced a turnaround in plans for 19 new coal-fired power plants around the state, the battle has been recounted in a documentary, "Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars," commissioned by Mr. Redford's Sundance Preserve. It spotlights the unlikely coalition of ranchers, big-city mayors and environmentalists that stymied Gov. Rick Perry and spurred the record $45 billion takeover of Texas's biggest electric company, TXU.

Shell Oil (!) sponsored a screening of the film in Houston last week. (So much for the leftist fantasy of capitalist collusion - maybe Big Oil is using state power to lean on Big Coal.)

The 34-minute film, narrated by Mr. Redford, the actor, director and environmental activist who successfully fought a coal-burning plant amid Utah national parks in 1975, also seeks to mobilize worldwide opposition to new coal plants as far away as China.

"We see people taking action against the toxic paralysis from leaders higher up," Mr. Redford, 71, said at the March 27 screening by the Progressive Forum, a speakers' group. "For me it's a question of hope, a small sliver of light from the dark we've been thrown into the last seven years, so I hope you appreciate it."

Mr. Perry, a Republican, had directed the State Office of Administrative Hearings to speed the approval process for coal-burning plants proposed by TXU. A state judge overturned the order as unlawful, and the utility then worked with environmental groups to be bought out by Energy Future Holdings, scrapping 8 of 11 proposed plants.

A spokesman for [Texas Gov. Rick] Perry, Robert Black, took issue with Mr. Redford's account, saying: "As in most things, liberals in Hollywood tend to live in the fiction fantasy world. The governor lives in reality."

After that single sentence of discouragement, Blumenthal shifted right back to environmentalist heroics for his ending:

Tom Smith, director of Public Citizen and a participant in the film, said at the screening that Texas still had the three of the proposed TXU plants pending, plus four more awaiting permits and at least four others proposed. Around the country, Mr. Smith said, plans for 69 were dropped after the furor in Texas, leaving 80 others.

"We hope," he said, "that the fight we had here in Texas represented in this grouping inspires people in other states and other countries to stand up and say, 'Not in our backyard, not in our community, not in our state, not in our time.'"