“Green” Verizon sponsoring anti-climate rally backed by coal giant Massey Energy

Major U.S. companies must decide if they support clean energy, which delivers clean air and protects clean water for our children — or do they support the greedy corporate polluters?  This ThinkProgress post exposes another company trying to have it both ways.


On Labor Day, tens of thousands of people will be gathering for the coal-powered “Friends of America Rally” in Holden, WV. The point of the gathering is to rail against the Waxman-Markey clean energy legislation. It will feature right-wing guests such as Sean Hannity and Ted Nugent (who once ranted about killing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton), and is being pushed by mountaintop-removal mining company Massey Energy. Last week, Massey CEO Don Blankenship even recorded a video inviting people to attend the rally, saying they would learn about how “environmental extremists and corporate America are both trying to destroy your jobs.” Watch it:

The sponsors for the rally are mostly regional oil, gas, and coal companies. However, the list also includes the Science and Public Policy Institute “” a fringe climate-denial organization “” and Verizon Wireless. CREDO Action recently launched a campaign calling on Verizon to drop its sponsorship. CREDO Political Director Becky Bond contacted Verizon’s Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Gerace to inform him that that CREDO would be launching a campaign against Verizon. Gerace responded by disparaging Bond:

This is how our response is going over with the activists. Becky once lived in a tree for a while. At least now I know where the emails are coming from.

For the record, Bond never lived in a tree. Verizon’s vice president of federal government relations also sits on the board of the global-warming denier National Association of Manufacturers.

Blankenship recently gained attention because the Supreme Court rebuked him for buying West Virginia judges. He has called opponents of his coal “communists,” “atheists,” and “greeniacs” and labeled a cap and trade system a “Ponzi scheme.”

Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Laura Merritt told the Charleston Gazette that Verizon’s decision to sponsor the rally was made “at the local level to support the community.” “It wasn’t an effort to take a position on any particular issue,” she added. However, the pro-coal policies that Verizon is now sponsoring actually hurt communities in West Virginia. As the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has written:

The coal-dominated economy of West Virginia is a troubling example of the cruelty of coalocracy. Despite $118 million in coal-mining annual income, West Virginia has the nation’s lowest median household income, worst educational services, worst social assistance, the highest population with disabilities, and nearly a quarter of West Virginia children in poverty.

Interestingly, Verizon brags that “environmental stewardship is ingrained in Verizon’s heritage, and the company prides itself on having a positive influence on the environment in which it operates.” It has a whole page devoted to its “green initiatives.” Take action here and tell Verizon that if it really wants to be green, it needs to stop sponsoring global warming denial rallies.

Update Miles Grant points out that the rally is being held “on a previous surface mine,” an area that has been decimated by mountaintop removal.
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8 Responses to “Green” Verizon sponsoring anti-climate rally backed by coal giant Massey Energy

  1. Jeff Huggins says:

    From An Amazed and Disappointed Verizon Customer

    I spend way too much — well over $1,000 in a year — on cell phone service with Verizon.

    If they are going to support things like this coal stuff, and speak from both sides of the mouth, then they (Verizon) will quickly lose my business. I’ll take it elsewhere.

    Last night I went to sleep “OK” with my phone and with Verizon. This morning, after reading about this, I see it a very different way. I’ve learned something new about Verizon, and I don’t like what I’ve learned.

    I ASK Verizon to promptly change its stance and to make a sincere comment here, on ClimateProgress, to responsibly respond to this problem and change course.

    I’ve also called Verizon and joined the e-mail campaign/cause to provide feedback to Verizon on this.

    Now, have the GE units resigned from the API yet?

    Be Well,


  2. Rick Covert says:

    Two things come to mind. First, CEO Don Blankenship is cloaking his company in the glow of patriotism by denouncing the grass roots movement protecting the climate that allows us to continue to grow our food and keep our cities above sea level as extremists when the actions of companies like his if allowed to go unchecked will turn the American bread basket into a dust bowl and put American coastal cities under water. What’s pro American about that?

    Second, he accuses, corporate forces, while denying that he himself runs such a corporation complete with lobbying and influence peddling, of destroying jobs but neglecting to mention that the biggest destroyer of coal jobs is companies like his who choose ANFO explosives to blow off the tops of mountains to get at the coal seams because its cheaper than hiring a bunch of coal miners.

    This is the sign of an industry in its twilight years.

  3. Thunderbunny says:

    Hope the “greenies” like living in the dark and cold, with their, now dead, cell phones. Coal supplies 75% of ALL OF THE POWER we use in the US. You won’t use nukes, like the EU. Better find that “solar power hat”.

    There IS NO ALTERNATIVE ENERGY!! Yet, maybe someday, but not now or in the next decade. It has to be invented! Libs all cry their eyes out over the US dependence on foreign oil, when the US has the richest energy resources available on the planet. Our basic problem is that well meaning people and well intentioned people can’t stop tweeting long enough to look up and see the traffic signals. It’s all, “racists, hate mongers, down with GREEDY CORPORATIONS!, let’s taxum and, Ohh.. there’s a puppy!!… oh, ya, let’s taxum and give the money to the POOR, blah, blah, blah.

    Just keep drinking the Kool Aid supplied by those that hate us and keep fighting with your brain tied behind your back. The whole green movment is a marketing move by those very corporations to make even more money while doing less. Grab your torches and pitchforks folks, there are monsters to slay!

  4. Squid says:

    Don’t feed the trolls!

    Another disappointed verizon customer. Does anyone have the web address for the verizon campaign?

  5. Rick Covert says:

    When Massey passes the cost of its environmental distruction on the residents of West Virgina, through its use of ANFO (Amonium Nitrate Fuel Oil) to remove mountian tops and get at the thin coal seams causing mudslides and water contamination to the residents who are unfortunate to live near these mines, its called “creating jobs” and not an environmental crime against the public. Anyone opposing this crime against the public is labled an “extremist”, “atheist”, “communist”, “socialist”, or whatever purjoritive label they can exploit to further their ends.

    What Mr. Blankenship wants is a government sanctioned right to pollute the commons. Now that’s socialism.

  6. Seth Kaplan says:

    I have a response and explanation from Mr. Gerace of Verizon Wireless (who is mentioned above) that I have posted at – without comment I urge folks to read it for themselves.

  7. Jeff Huggins says:

    Verizon’s Statement

    Seth (Comment 6), thanks very much for the link to Verizon’s statement.

    I’ve read their statement. It is UNconvincing and INsufficient. And frustrating.

    I hope that the Verizon folks re-examine the matter and take MUCH better care next time. And, I also hope that they address the PRESENT situation.

    It’s not that I disbelieve the points made in the statement. Instead, it’s that the statement “misses the point” in important respects, makes excuses, and doesn’t address the present problem.

    I could write an entire essay on the matter — but won’t.

    But I will mention one of the smaller things, although still an important one.

    Now that Verizon does understand what the event is about, they can remedy the matter. For example, they can pull out of the event. If the event and other sponsors hold them to a contract or commitment, Verizon can provide any money that was promised as part of its support, but withdraw its name. If materials for the event have to be reprinted, Verizon could pay for that. In short, if the event’s co-sponsors hold Verizon to whatever agreement has been made, Verizon can live up to those particular aspects of the agreement but insist that its name not be used, even at its own expense if some materials have to be re-done.

    I don’t know all the details, of course, but I think it’s fairly safe and reasonable to say that, even today, Verizon CAN withdraw its name from the event, if it so chooses. If the event’s other sponsors and organizer don’t allow that, Verizon can issue a press release and go on the news, prominently, to distance itself from the theme and intent of the event.

    There are plenty of remedies available to Verizon, if they are being honest and if they genuinely care about the environment.

    So, let’s see if they adopt those remedies.



  8. Watcher says:

    With over 100 sponsors and 100,000 attendance expected from over 40 states, to say this event is only about coal is ludicrous. This will be the largest labor day event in the United States.