Coalition Calls for Verizon Wireless to End Support for Pro-Mountaintop Removal Rally

posted by scott parkin

Today, a coalition of over 20 environmental, community and faith groups called on Verizon Wireless to end their support for the Massey Energy organized Friends of America rally and officially announce their opposition to mountaintop removal.

Yesterday, Greenpeace launched a call in on Verizon Wireless’ executive offices. During the day, operators told concerned callers that Verizon’s corp mothership didn’t even know about the sponsorship. I guess they know now!

Here’s the press release, letter is further down.

Groups Ask That Verizon Wireless Withdraw Support of Controversial, Climate-change Denying Labor Day Event

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.— Today a coalition of groups led by the Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter to Verizon Wireless asking the corporation to withdraw its sponsorship of a Labor Day rally being held in West Virginia to support mountaintop removal coal mining and oppose climate legislation. The groups represent millions of members and include Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace USA, Friends of the Earth, Appalachian Voices, Christians Caring for Creation, and many others.

“Verizon Wireless may say they’re an environmentally friendly company, but their mouth isn’t where their money is. Verizon Wireless is now aware that they paid money to sponsor an event that celebrates mountaintop removal coal mining, and they have not withdrawn their sponsorship. They can keep saying they’re a friend to the environment until they’re green in the face, but there’s just no environmentally friendly way to blow up mountains and dump them into streams,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity.

More groups are expected to sign on to the letter, which will be updated on Monday. As of Friday morning, nearly 80,000 concerned citizens had submitted letters to Verizon Wireless through CREDO Action and the Center asking the company to withdraw its sponsorship of the event. Other groups have also launched action alerts to their membership.

As current customers of Verizon Wireless, several of the groups have expressed their concern to the company about its support for the mountaintop removal rally, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, and Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, and intend to reevaluate their relationship with Verizon Wireless.

September 4, 2009

Lowell McAdam
President and Chief Executive Officer
Verizon Wireless

Dear Mr. McAdam,

We are writing on behalf of the millions of members of our organizations to request that you withdraw sponsorship of the Friends of America Rally being put on by the coal industry in West Virginia on Labor Day in support of mountaintop removal coal mining and in opposition to climate legislation.

We believe that Verizon Wireless’ sponsorship of this event indicates the company’s support for mountaintop removal coal mining and indicates opposition to climate change legislation. It is undeniable that the rally is a political event, for several reasons: Attendees must register for tickets online next to a link to sign a petition that’s against climate legislation, the keynote speaker is a prominent critic of global climate change science, and the stated purpose of the event is to protect coal mining jobs, with a particular focus on mountaintop removal. Thus, by sponsoring this event, Verizon Wireless is also endorsing the political positions behind the event.

Coal is one of the largest sources of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Mountaintop removal coal mining has destroyed more than a thousand miles of streams and more than a million acres of forest in Appalachia, while permanently contaminating drinking water supplies, endangering residents with dust, fly rock, and mud slides, and jeopardizing imperiled species.

We ask that Verizon Wireless withdraw sponsorship of this event or explain the company’s support for mountaintop removal coal mining and opposition to climate legislation. If Verizon Wireless indeed does not support mountaintop removal coal mining, then we ask that you officially let your customers know that you oppose this destructive practice.

We look forward to your prompt response.


Appalachian Voices
The Center for Biological Diversity
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Christians Caring for Creation
Coal River Mountain Watch
Defenders of Wildlife
Endangered Habitats League
Environmental Protection Information Center
Friends of the Earth
Global Exchange
Grand Canyon Wildlands Council
Great Old Broads for Wilderness
Greenpeace USA
Kentucky Heartwood
Natural Resources Defense Council
New Sustainability Project
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Public Resource Associates
Rainforest Action Network
Responsible Endowments Coalition
San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society
Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards