Citizens Occupy PNC: The Bank of Mountaintop Removal

Written by Amanda Starbuck

Topics: Coal

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UPDATE: Four brave activists were arrested at today’s PNC sit-in, including Reverend Billy Talen, George Lakey, Alexa Ross and Liz Nerat.

Today, as part of Appalachia Rising, the largest protest against mountaintop removal coal mining in history, 35 concerned citizens staged a sit-in at PNC’s flagship bank here Washington DC. Currently, PNC Bank is the largest U.S. financier of mountaintop removal. Activists, people of faith and students joined together to demand that the bank cut its financial ties with the devastating practice.

Over the past two years, most major U.S. banks have moved to limit their financing of MTR. PNC has refused to act.

PNC is now the number one U.S. financier of MTR. The bank has provided more than $500 million in loans and bonds to six companies practicing mountaintop removal: Massey Energy, Patriot Coal, Alpha Natural Resources, International Coal Group, Arch Coal and Consol Energy. These six companies are collectively responsible for almost half of all MTR coal mining in Appalachia.

The idea of corporate responsibility has come up repeatedly in recent months following the coal mine and oil disasters. That responsibility extends beyond profits to the health and well-being of our communities. Some banks, such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, have made commitments to reduce and even end their funding of the dirtiest coal mining practices. By continuing to finance mountaintop removal coal mining, PNC is throwing that responsibility aside.

The PNC website boldly states that they are “the greenest bank in the business.” Meanwhile, the communities impacted by PNC’s financing decisions are facing public health threats including unsafe drinking water and toxic mercury pollution; are saddled with an unsustainable development path; and devastated by the economic impacts of a dying industry.

The time is now for action.  In order for PNC to fulfill its vision as an environmentally responsible bank, PNC needs to stop financing for mountaintop removal coal mining.

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