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Verizon Rolls Over: Company Apologizes for Sponsoring Climate-Denier Rally

Rob Perks

Posted September 11, 2009

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A few days late and a thousand dollars short.  That's how I'd describe the belated victory over Verizon Wireless.  I mean, I appreciate the sentiment, Lowell, but really, this embarrassing episode for your company easily could have been avoided.

OK, let me back up for a second.  Recall that Verizon Wireless unintentionally (perhaps) and unnecessarily (for sure) got itself embroiled in a controversy that sparked a backlash from thousands of its customers.  You see, several customers -- like me -- were quite shocked and, frankly, ticked off to learn that Verizon Wireless paid $1000 to sponsor the so-called Friends of America rally in West Virginia on Labor Day.  This event, put on by Massey coal baron Don Blankenship, was a free concert featuring global warming deniers, right-wing pundits, and reckless-rhetoric-spewing rockers who gathered on the site of a mountantop mining site to promote an extreme anti-environmental political agenda.

Verizon Wireless, which markets itself as environmentally friendly, clearly made a mistake affiliating its brand with this anti-"green" rally.  But instead of heeding customer complaints by withdrawing its sponsorship, company officials first tried to play clueless about the overt political aspect of the event, and then stubbornly stayed the course for fear of angering the coal crowd.

[If you want more details, check out my previous blog on this and then work your way backwards through my many posts over the past week or so.]

Well, yesterday the CEO of Verizon Wireless, Mr. Lowell "Mea Culpa" McAdam, offered a public apology -- in the form of a letter to the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that organized around this issue. 

In an effort to "set the record straight," McAdams explains that Verizon Wireless' sponsorship was not meant as an expression of support for the coal industry's political agenda.  He insists that the company does not support mountaintop removal coal mining, nor does it oppose federal climate legislation.  He goes on to clarify that Verizon Wireless "supports the goals of policy makers who are committed to reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment."  McAdams then takes the opportunity to tout Verizon's corporate commitment to sustainability.

[UPDATE: The Center for Biological Diversty sent a hard-hitting follow-up letter to Verizon Wireless.  Check it out here.]

So there you have it: Verizon Wireless' belated apology for violating its stated environmental values, undermining its credibility as a "green" company, and breaking its trust with customers.

Kudos to each and everyone of you who contacted the company to voice your views and concerns about the situation.  Looks like Verizon Wireless heard

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Pete altmanSep 12 2009 01:08 AM

Nice job Rob, CBD and everyone else!

Clem GuttataSep 12 2009 09:12 AM

Thanks for this update, this is great to hear!

For anyone curious about local progressive coverage of Don Blankenship's Labor Day event (and Verizon Wireless' involvement), you can find list of the dozen-plus stories from West Virginia Blue here:

Sue C.Sep 12 2009 08:19 PM

For me, this was the last straw. I've already switched to CREDO, which donates to progressive causes.

chadley ChadwickSep 12 2009 09:01 PM

Verizon, I'm now with another company. There are progressive choices for many of us who don't like supporting oligarchic corporations or environmental thugs.

John A. JaureguiSep 13 2009 12:30 AM

As common sense would strongly suggest, new Climate Change GCM models show the sun is the source of observed Global Warming, NOT CO2.

“Previously, the direct impact of increased irradiance on global average temperature has been estimated at around 0.25°C last century—a threefold amplifying effect would raise that to 0.75°C. This leaves practically no warming effect for CO2 to account for and renders the whole anthropogenic global warming argument moot. In other words, if the atmospheric solar amplifier theory is correct anthropogenic global warming is wrong, a useless theory describing a nonexistent phenomenon. It seems like poetic justice that a modeling experiment may point the way to discrediting global warming once and for all.”

See for details.

John BeckSep 13 2009 12:48 AM

I am a regular person who strives to support small businesses. I use CREDO mobile for my wireless phone, and have always been very happy with them. I pay competitive rates, support a much smaller company that Verizon and a percentage of CREDOs profits goes towards progressive groups.

Verizon is just another Big Bad Business who will say whatever to not offend the wrong people and do what they think they need to do to keep their profits. Their apology is worth as much about as much as Joe Wilson's to President Obama (worthless, just there to save face).

Ken TuckerSep 13 2009 01:09 AM

Rob, mis disculpas... didn't see the anti-commercial reference until AFTER i posted.

But, if CREDO mentions are allowed... how about ProgressiveVoIP as an alternative for lines other than CREDO cell? Folks need to know they can make a difference AND send a message to Verizon at the same time, no?

Regardless, thanks for posting up the belated bleatings of the Verizon yahoo, pathetic as it was. That's a 'message' all in itself.

John BeckSep 13 2009 01:34 AM

John A. Jauregui, you write a lot but don't seem to say much that makes sense.

Of course the sun is where the heat that causes Global Climate Change comes from. CO2 does not heat up the atmosphere, learn your basic physics & chemistry. CO2 and a myriad of other mostly man-made gases trap the sun's heat, prevent it from radiating back out into Space, and so the atmosphere (and the oceans and lands) all warm up.

I'm curious what "new" Climate Change GCM models you're talking about, what people, groups or industries put them out, and what they show. I'm not someone who has trouble with science, but your words make no sense to me. What website or email did you cut & past that from?

Computer models and fancy worded phrases aside, the increase in atmospheric heating and melting of ice caps and permafrost have been shown to directly correspond to when humans started becoming industrialized, and have increased as we've increased CO2 and other gases in the atmosphere. That's common sense, not your overly technical gibberish.

It is alarming how loud the voices are that deny global warming/global climate change. Don't believe your own lying eyes they scream, those ice caps aren't melting, the Winters are just as cold as they were 20-30+ years ago, coral reefs worldwide aren't dying, and the weather's just fine.

bo webbSep 13 2009 10:45 AM

Rob, Thanks for the update, but I have not seen an apology. If there is one somewhere, please do give us a link to it. Verizon, arrogantly addressed this before this scam rally to overthrow the American government. (that is what it was). Verizon said that the decision to sponsor was a local decision and they didn't want to undermine the local Verizon's sales efforts. Bottom line is that Verizon saw an opportunity to sell cell phones to a large group of people that were herded into one small space. They didn't care about their public image and figured thay could control any public damage that might result. If we allow them to slide out of this, this easily, then we are all fools and deserve more of the same. What you have referred to here as an apology is not an apology. Let's call it what it is, an attempt to justify corporate greed.

JeffSep 13 2009 11:10 AM

For all those who are promoting CREDO as an alternative to Verizon: what network does CREDO use to carry their traffic? The harsh truth is that the fiber-optic infrastructure used to transport traffic belongs to AT&T, Verizon, Level 3, Qwest, and Global Crossing, among others. Switching providers might give you some "warm fuzzies", but the oligarchs are still getting their dues. Also, CREDO's service area is not that wide-spread. If only we had *real* options!

Jim SSep 13 2009 12:11 PM

I have read the letter from Verizon to the Center for Biological Diversity several times over and have seen no apology in it. It is only the same sorts of excuses that they have given since the beginning on why they don't believe they've done anything wrong. How is this an apology?

First of all, they need to make a statement of actual regret for what they did - which was to lend their name and financial support to a vile event supporting the lies of climate change deniers and the supports of mountaintop removal - a system of mining that destroys forests, streams, and mountains FOREVER, puts miners out of work (surface mining employs far fewer people than subsurface mining), and literally destroys people's health, lives, and communities.

Secondly, they need to offer clear support in terms of finances and name recognition to organizations and communities working to protect current and future generations from the agenda promoted at the Massey "Friends of America" event.

Until then, I don't think that CBD or NRDC should be calling Verizon's statement an apology or calling it any sort of "victory" as this blog does.

Malcolm BlueSep 14 2009 02:16 PM

I doubt the sincerity of Verizon. In 2004 they were major donors to Bush's campaign and in the last campaign they donated all kinds of cell phones to the McCain campaign. I have 4 months left on my Verizon contract and cannot wait NOT to renew with them, even though they "err".

David StorferSep 15 2009 01:00 PM

John A. Jauregui,
You are a silly man. On the very day you posted, this article was written (and not paid for by oil money, for sure):

Study Confirms Direct Link Between CO2 and Antarctic Ice Sheets

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