Tricked? NC businesses challenge Sierra Club over signatures on petition to close coal plant

A leading national watchdog group monitoring nonprofits has put the Sierra Club on its watch list after reports that three western North Carolina businesses accused the green group of listing them without permission as co-signatories on a “businesses beyond coal” campaign letter.

The Sierra Club listed 80 businesses as co-signatories last October in a letter it widely publicized, calling for Duke Energy to retire its coal plant in Asheville. But as veteran investigative reporter Michael Cronin reported in the Asheville Citizen-Times, out of 19 businesses contacted, three said they had not authorized the Sierra Club to use their name on the letter.

One more business owner had signed on but wanted his name removed because he felt the Sierra Club had misrepresented what the letter would say. The Sierra Club had also listed a business that was no longer in existence as a signatory.

National Review reached out to the remaining 61 businesses listed in the Sierra Club letter. Though it was unable to reach all of the owners, it found three additional businesses — Asheville Glass Center, Black Mountain Yarn Shop and Gallery MIA — who said they hadn’t signed on to the letter.

“I’ve been doing some research, and I don’t know that we ever got that letter,” said Asheville Glass Center’s Alex Greenwood. “I was certainly not informed of it, and everyone I asked has never seen anything like it. If we had gotten it, we would have signed it.”

Additionally, Lululemon’s local store had signed the Sierra Club’s letter without the corporate office’s endorsement or permission, says ​a company spokesperson. The Sierra Club’s letter did not specify that Lululemon’s support was only local.

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