Documentary brings to light the coal industry ‘From the Ashes’ |

Documentary brings to light the coal industry ‘From the Ashes’

Free screening followed by discussion

Environmental issues are once again in the spotlight following the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw from the United Nations Paris climate accord and the signing of an executive order to roll back some of the nation’s climate policies.

These acts, however, haven’t kept what the Wasatch Back Chapter of the Sierra Club says is an ‘environmental tide’ from moving forward.

“It’s no secret that we’ve seen a few setbacks in our country’s environmental movement, but we are also seeing [it] not stopping. “ said Lindsay Beebe, representative for the Sierra Club Wasatch Back Chapter Beyond Coal campaign in Utah. “It’s not a matter of environmental regulations. It’s more about realizing renewable energy is affordable and a clean way to power our homes and our cars.”

This is one of the topics that will be covered during a free screening of Michael Bonfiglio’s documentary “From the Ashes” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 11, at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium.

The event, which will feature a post-film panel discussion, is made possible by a partnership with the Park City Film Series and the Sierra Club Wasatch Back Chapter.

“From the Ashes,” which focuses on communities across the country while they wrestle with the legacy of the coal industry, and what its future should be under the Trump Administration, is not a liberal documentary, said Park City Film Series Executive Director Katharine Wang.

“What this film does, in a very compelling way, is look at coal from various perspectives, not just the conservation lens, but from the eyes of the coal miners and communities that are impacted by coal, such as in Appalachia and the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana,” Wang said. “I think the film does a good job of telling this history of coal in the country, and it also looks at what the future of coal is and the viability of that.”

While filmmaker Bonfiglio examines the health impacts of coal, which includes contaminated drinking water and asthma from coal dust, he also looks at the rise at renewable energy, and the opportunities these sources can offer those communities that produce coal.

“On the hopeful (side), the film looks at how we can educate and train the miners and these communities about renewables when coal production is reduced,” Wang said.

This is an important aspect, Beebe said.

“One of the more powerful messages is focused on a just and equitable transition,” she said. “We have to recognize that fact to make sure we don’t leave these communities to fend for themselves once the coal companies leave town.”

Beebe said the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign addresses those concerns.

“In Utah, the Beyond Coal campaign is focused on transitioning the state’s power from polluting fossil fuels to renewable energy sources: wind, solar and geothermal,” she said. “We work at multiple levels in the legislature, the public service commission, the air quality division to make sure people — volunteers, activists and employees — are heard by decision makers.

“We do know that Utah is a coal-dependent state, especially many rural places where jobs depend on coal production. And we want to transform the communities and help them keep the lights on and bring them into a clean-energy economy.”

After the Sierra Club hosted a screening of “From the Ashes” in Salt Lake City a few weeks ago, it reached out to the Park City Film Series to present a screening in the Jim Santy Auditorium.

“We were thrilled for the opportunity. We haven’t worked much with the Sierra Club in the past, but we are certainly concerned about conservation issues, “ Wang said.

The Park City screening will be followed by a panel discussion about the how Park City and Summit County are addressing the clean-energy transition.

The panel, moderated by Beebe will include Luke Cartin, Park City’s environmental sustainability manager, and Erin Bragg, the sustainability assistant from Summit County, and others who haven’t been confirmed, yet.

“Park City, most notably, made a pretty aggressive goal of putting in place 100 percent renewable energy by 2032,” Beebe said. “We’ll talk about how that will come into fruition, as well as other topics.”

Park City Film Series and the Sierra Club Wasatch Back will present a free screening of Michael Bonfiglio’s documentary “From the Ashes,” not rated, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug 11, at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave. The screening is part of the Park City Film Series’ Reel Community Series. For information, visit