Target: Forrest Mars, Jr.
Goal: Stop the Mars family fortune from financing coal pollution
Mars, Inc. is an American-grown company that makes some of the world’s most popular candies, including M&M’s, Milky Ways, and Snickers. Unlike most corporations of its size, Mars is a privately held, family-owned company governed almost entirely by the Mars family. Members of the Mars family pride themselves on a commitment to sustainability. For instance, the Mars, Inc. web site states that “We have already set targets to source 100% of several key raw materials using more sustainable approaches.”
Now, however, the Mars family fortune is being used to prop up one of the least sustainable industries in the world. That’s because Forrest Mars, Jr., who played a pivotal role in shaping the Mars company and now shares its ownership with Jacqueline Mars and John Mars, has invested millions of dollars in a coal transportation railroad. Coal is the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, and the number one contributor to climate change. Propping up the dirty coal industry should not be part of the Mars family legacy.
How did money made from M&M’s end up getting invested in coal? Forrest Mars Jr.’s Diamond Cross Ranch in Montana would originally have been bisected by the Tongue River Railroad, a proposed project whose sole purpose is to transport coal from new coal strip mines to existing rail corridors. Though he originally opposed the railroad and partnered with environmental groups to challenge it, in 2011 Forrest Mars bought a one-third share in the project, and used his inside influence to shorten it so it doesn’t go through his ranch. He now supports the railroad.
Though the Tongue River Railroad no longer crosses Forrest Mars’ land, other private landowners would still be affected. Even more importantly, the Mars family fortune is now helping to finance one of the biggest coal mining projects in North America. Climate change caused by burning this coal would negate any efforts by the Mars company to reduce its carbon footprint, and threatens the futures of the thousands of children who enjoy Mars products.
By signing this petition, you will urge Forrest Mars to withdraw his financial stake in the Tongue River Railroad, and support sustainable development that’s fully in keeping with the best traditions of the Mars family.
Dear Forrest Mars, Jr.,
In light of Mars Inc.’s commitment to sustainability, and your own past support for conservation, I was disappointed to learn about your investment in the Tongue River Railroad coal transportation project. As you know, coal is the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, and the number one contributor to climate change. The Tongue River Railroad (TRR) would open vast new areas in Montana to coal strip mining, while transforming an important agricultural region into an industrial corridor. We, the undersigned, urge you to withdraw any financial stake in the TRR and to oppose the construction of this project.
We realize that by buying part of the TRR, you may have prevented the planned route of this railroad from crossing some affected ranches. However, this has done nothing to help the many other landowners whose ranches will still be affected, and the health and climate impacts of the coal industry are still as bad as ever. The TRR will lead to more coal trains passing through towns in Montana, Idaho, and Washington. Coal dust and diesel fumes from coal trains threaten the health of hundreds of people, including children suffering from asthma. The damage to our climate from burning coal is even more serious, and threatens to nullify all the sustainability work Mars, Inc. is doing.
There is no such thing as clean coal. To avoid the worst effects of climate change, we must replace coal with cleaner energy, and this transition is already occurring. The Mars family legacy can help take us to a sustainable future, but not by investing in another coal railroad. We believe that withdrawing your investment in the TRR and opposing expanded coal development is in keeping with the Mars family’s finest traditions. Besides, it’s the right thing to do to secure a healthy future for the millions of kids who enjoy Mars products.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Max Wolfe via Flickr