Robert Redford was so struck by a story of Texas mayors, ranchers and other citizens who stood up against plans for a batch of new coal-fired power plants that he narrated a film about it.
The actor and founder of the Sundance Film Festival is lending his voice to a 34-minute documentary called "Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars." The film is being shown in seven cities in Utah and Nevada next week.
Redford's hoping the story inspires others to face off against the "mythology" of nonrenewable resources and consider renewable energy alternatives.
"It makes no sense going in a direction that represents yesterday," Redford said in an interview with The Associated Press this week.
The story centers on a fight that started in 2006 over 19 proposed coal-fired power plants in central and east Texas. The plans galvanized a diverse group of citizens who might otherwise have divergent political viewpoints: ranchers, environmentalists, business leaders, legislators, lawyers and more than a dozen local mayors.
Redford, who has been involved with environmental causes for decades, said he was inspired by the group's unifying interests around clean air and a healthy environment. The coalition opposing the plans grew to include 36 cities, counties and school districts.
"To me, that was a sign of changing times," said Redford, who spends about six months a year in Utah.
Eventually, the company that proposed 11 of the new plants agreed to build only three.
The film, produced by the Redford Center at the Sundance Preserve and Alpheus Media, based in Austin, Texas, has already been shown in Texas. Supporters are bringing it to Utah and Nevada where several new coal-fired plants are being proposed.
"It's very relevant to what's going on not only in Utah but the rest of the country," said Tim Wagner, director of the Utah Smart Energy Campaign. "We want people to understand when they see this film that they can get involved, they too can make a difference."
Redford said he sees what happened in Texas as an indication that a tipping point has been reached in how the public perceives coal-fired plants.
"That's breaking apart now because the reality is seeping through like grass coming through the sidewalk," he said.
The screenings next week will be followed by panel discussions about pollution, global warming, renewable energy in the West, ways to minimize energy use and "economic opportunities of the clean energy economy."
Wagner said Redford's involvement boosts the visibility of the film and the discussion.
"He brings a level of interest that we normally wouldn't get," Wagner said.
Screenings in Nevada will be on Sept. 9 in Las Vegas, Reno and Ely and Sept. 10 in Mesquite.
In Utah, the movie will be shown Sept. 9 in Salt Lake City, St. George and Richfield.