As a long-time customer, I was appalled to learn that Verizon Wireless has hopped into bed with Don Blankenship, chairman, CEO and president of Massey Energy, one of the largest coal companies in America and one of the driving forces behind the devastating rape of America's lands known as mountaintop removal coal mining. Blankenship is the evil mastermind behind the "Friends of America Rally" taking place on Labor Day in West Virginia.
Who is Don Blankenship?
He has been called "the scariest polluter in America." Just last December, my colleague Pete Altman exposed the videotape from a speech in which Blankenship indulged in his patented version of full-blown climate change denial and also called various pro-environmental elected officials "greeniacs" bent on destroying the American way of life.
His rally next week will feature speeches by prominent global warming denier Lord Christopher Monckton, the Science & Public Policy Institute (global warming skeptics), conservative Fox blowhard Sean Hannity. Ted Nugent and Hank Williams, Jr. are among those who will provide musical entertainment.
None of this should have caught Verizon by surprise. If company officials had done any due diligence before signing on as a rally sponsor, they would have found that Blankenship's extreme brand of looniness is well documented here, here and here ... and dozens of other places.
And it's not like Blankenship is trying to be subtle about his agenda. In the YouTube video announcing the "Friends of American Rally," the Big Coal CEO outrageously claims that the free event is designed to show "how environmental extremists and corporate America are both trying to destroy your jobs."
[UPDATE: According to an AP story, Verizon officials claim their sponsorship of the rally does not necessarily reflect company policy; they paid the necessary fee to be allowed to set up a booth and sell their products to rally attendees. Guess that reduces the company's stated environmental commitment to run-of-the-mill "greenwashing."]
Shouldn't something that nutty have set off a few alarm bells at Verizon Wireless? As our friends at the Center for Biological Diversity put it so well:
"Verizon Wireless can't claim to be 'going green' and then join forces with one of the dirtiest companies in the world," said Tierra Curry, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Verizon can't keep its hands green and sponsor an event that supports the destruction of Appalachia and the extinction of a third of the earth's species due to climate change."
(In fairness to Verizon, it should be noted that Blankenship has slipped through security in other prominent places. He sits on the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce! Of course, that may not be so surprising, though, since the Chamber now openly engaged in Blankenship's don't-confuse-me-with-the-facts approach to global warming denial.)
If you are a Verizon Wireless customer -- or might ever be a Verizon customer of any kind --- be sure to let the company know how you feel about its direct support of global warming science denial.
Please take a moment to call or email Verizon Wireless and tell the company to hang up on the Blankenship rally. The email for the Verizon Wireless CEO is Dennis.Strigl@verizonwireless.com
I've already weighed in with Verizon Wireless and unless the company realizes the error of its ways and revokes its support of this blatantly anti-environmental event, I'll be switching to another provider. Can you hear me now, Verizon?