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Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars

Narrated by Robert Redford. A film by Mat Hames and George Sledge

“We hope that the fight we had here in Texas 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”

— Tom “Smitty” Smith,
ED of Public Citizen

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The film has proven to be an important tool for educating and inspiring activists, business leaders, policymakers, lawyers, ranchers, teachers, doctors, students, and everyday citizens to get involved in stopping the rush to build conventional coal-fired power plants that use outmoded, polluting technology. Share the film with your community. Learn more

About the Film

Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars
Narrated by Robert Redford
Runtime: 34 min.

Narrated by Robert Redford and produced by the Redford Center and Alpheus Media, FIGHTING GOLIATH: TEXAS COAL WARS follows the story of Texans fighting a high-stakes battle for clean air. The film introduces the unlikely partners — mayors, ranchers, CEOs, community groups, legislators, lawyers, faith groups, and citizens — that have come together to oppose the construction of 19 conventional coal-fired power plants that were slated to be built in Eastern and Central Texas and that were being fast-tracked by the Governor.

The film documents how pressure from these various groups changed public opinion throughout the state of Texas and influenced a proposal made by private investors looking to purchase TXU—the company proposing 11 of the 19 conventional coal-fired power plants slated for construction in Texas—and convinced the buyers to reduce the amount of new plants they would build from 11 to 3.

The change in approach and significant reduction of potential pollutants is clearly a victory for the people of Texas, and a national example for others to follow since as of Feburary 2008 114 conventional coal-fired power plants are currently being proposed across the U.S., and close to 1,000 are in development worldwide. In addition to this being an important local story, it’s a powerful national and global story with the potential to educate and inspire audiences worldwide.

The film captures key moments in the fight, including when Dallas’ then Mayor Laura Miller stated, “Never in the history of Texas have so many cities banded together to fight for the environment, Texas Cities for Clean Air Coalition is born today. What is it that brought us together? One word: Coal.” Miller made this statement at a press conference on August 31, 2006, not long after Texans learned about the 19 new coal-burning power plants that had been proposed to be built in the state.

Teaming up with Houston Mayor Bill White, Miller urged other mayors to join the Texas Cities for Clean Air Coalition—a group expressly established to fight against the states’ rush toward outmoded, conventional coal—and within a month’s time mayors from Arlington, Cedar Hill, Coppell, DeSoto, Duncanville, El Paso, Fort Worth, Frisco, Hillsboro, Irving, Lancaster, McKinney, Plano, Rockwall, and Wylie had joined.

In the weeks and months following the August press conference, the coalition grew to include 36 cities, counties and school districts; more than 600,000 dollars were raised and attorneys with Susman Godfrey logged millions of pro-bono legal hours; ranchers, oil executives, business leaders, and community groups joined the opposition; and dealmakers from NRDC and Environmental Defense came on board to negotiate not just the largest private corporate buyout in history—the sale of TXU to TPG, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and Goldman Sachs Group—but the first ever made contingent upon the approval of green groups, which was given once the buyers consented to a 10-point agreement that included building only 3 of the 11 new coal-fired plants that TXU had proposed.

The 34-minute documentary film centers on the actions of the Texas mayors and other key voices at the table. It frames the global energy challenge—facing every citizen, business leader and policymaker today—of powering communities in a way that supports the local economy and protects public health. While at the same time making a statement about what can be done to protect public health and fight global warming when community members, business leaders, and policymakers come together.