The National Resources Defense Council and others areblasting Verizon Wireless for sponsoring what they say is an anti-environmental event, the Friends ofAmerica Rally planned on Labor Day.

The event includes well-known TV personality Sean Hannityand performers including Ted Nugent and John Rich. Many traditional oil andcoal companies are sponsors of the Charleston, W.V., rally. The event's Web site offersvisitors the chance to sign a petition against the Waxman-Markey climate bill. More than 75,000 people have registered to attend the free rally and no more tickets are available, the Web site says.  Verizon spokesman Debra Lewis said this morning that Verizon Wireless'decision to sponsor the event was made at the local level and is not astatement of its policies or support of any public issues. "It was a localdecision made to support the community," she says.

Rob Perks, NRDC's director of its Center for AdvocacyCampaigns, says in a recent blog that he "was appalled to learn that VerizonWireless has hopped into bed with Don Blankenship, chairman, CEO and presidentof Massey Energy, one of the largest coal companies in America andone of the driving forces behind the devastating rape of America's lands knownas mountaintop removal coalmining. Blankenship is the evil mastermind behind the 'Friends of America Rally'taking place on Labor Day in West Virginia."