Yesterday, thousands of miners and their families trekked to the top of a reclaimed mountaintop mine site in West Virginia to celebrate Labor Day at a free concert and picnic organized by Don Blankenship, CEO of the nation's fourth-largest coal company. The event, essentially a political rally against the climate and clean energy bill being debated in Congress, reportedly cost Massey Energy $1 million dollars.
After performances by Hank Williams, Jr. and Ted Nugent, and speeches by FOX News host Sean Hannity, Blankenship took the stage to rail against environmental "extremists" and to denounce global warming as a hoax. "We know that only God can change the earth's temperature, not Al Gore," Blankenship told the crowd.
That a coal baron like Blankenship would blow a million bucks to stage this so-called "Friends of America" rally in support of blowing up Appalachia's mountains and cooking the planet with dirty coal is not surprising. What is surprising is Verizon Wireless' defiant sponsorship of the event. The company paid no heed whatsoever to tens of thousands of emails and calls from shocked and disappointed Verizon customers, not to mention critical press coverage exposing the company's phoney commitment to environmental values.
As I blogged before the event, Verizon officials claimed indifference to the right-wing political nature of the event, yet still refused to back down later for fear of making a political statement in favor of efforts to protect the environment and address climate change. How exactly does that square with the company's purported "green" credentials? Seems to me the only green Verizon Wireless cares about is the color of money.
For a company supposedly intent on not taking sides, it now has to contend with a tarnished reputation. When I think of Verizon now I'll think of the 500 mountians leveled in Appalachia by Massey and other coal companies; I'll think about its newfound buddy-buddy relationship with Don Blankenship, known as "the scariest polluter in America"; and I'll think about the off-balanced, hateful rhetoric of gun-loving rocker Ted Nuget (see video of his screed at the rally below).
When I, along with so many other loyal customers, urged Verizon Wireless to act accordingly, the company heard us but chose not to listen. For that, I'm going to switch my phone service -- and urge my friends and family to do the same.
Can you hear me now, CREDO Mobile?