Momenta is an environmental conservation film that serves as a call to action, aiming to motivate communities in the Pacific Northwest to fight against the coal export industry. The filmmakers and interview subjects ask the audience to rethink fossil fuels and the inevitable long-term damage they will cause to the global environment.
As coal profits in Montana and Wyoming's Powder River Basin decline, companies are looking to export their product to Asia via the communities of the Pacific Northwest. This area offers a gateway to transport coal to Asia to be burned as fuel, and there are proposals to open more ports to enable a greater output. These plans would double the number of mile-and-a-half long trains that cross the region each day, likely spreading toxic coal dust in their wake.
Experts explain that coal is accountable for less than 30% of the world's energy supply, yet over 40% of the world's energy emissions. The film cites data showing the greenhouse gasses from exporting and burning the remaining coal in the Powder River Basin would be massive compared to those of the Keystone XL pipeline, and would push CO2 emissions well beyond the tipping point of global devastation.
The filmmakers curate feedback from a variety of people, from scientists and policymakers to professional outdoorsmen and women who caution against the risks of both transporting coal and burning it once it reaches its destination. A professional snowboarder testifies to the changes he's already seen in the mountains, but climate change is just one of the threats noted here.
If the proposed transportation plans were to be approved there would be hundreds of trains running per day, which in turn would halt traffic in the adjacent communities, adding an increase in car exhaust to the atmosphere as well as taxing the aging infrastructure in many small towns. The potential for train derailments and water contamination are also highlighted. Wind energy is touted as a preferred alternative, as windmills are often on private land and allow citizens and businesses alike to continue going about their lives with minimal disruption.
Momenta utilizes beautiful cinematography to capture the lush and vibrant landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, making the anti-coal argument even more compelling by showing the purity of nature that we all risk losing.