Another Big Bank Turns Away from Mountaintop Removal!

Written by Amanda Starbuck

Topics: Coal, Finance

share this story
facebook twitter email stumble upon
Get Energy Alerts
PNC's green wall

Proud of their green wall, now PNC have an MTR policy to be proud of too

I’m saying ‘Thank you’ this week to PNC bank — which has just released its public position on Mountaintop Removal (MTR) Coal Mining.

Here’s PNC’s policy in full — and a key extract:

MTR is the subject of increasing regulatory and legislative scrutiny, with a focus on the permitting of MTR mines. While this extraction method is permitted, PNC will not provide funding to individual MTR projects, nor will PNC provide credit to coal producers whose primary extraction method is MTR.

We’ve been calling on PNC for many months to end their MTR financing, so I asked why the company made this new policy public. PNC responded that awareness of mountaintop removal and its impacts has been growing and that groups like RAN put the issue on their radar.

This move makes PNC bank number seven to issue a position on MTR, following in the footsteps of Bank of America, Citi, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Credit Suisse. You can read our assessment of these policies in RAN’s report card on banks and MTR.

On the face of it, PNC’s policy looks comparable with those released by the big Wall Street banks, but not as strong as the Credit Suisse policy — Credit Suisse has a complete exclusion on financing companies who engage in MTR coal extraction.

As with all bank policies, we’ll understand what PNC’s policy really means in practice as we monitor their financial dealings with the coal industry over the coming months. Until then we can only speculate, but let’s base that speculation on what’s happened previously. As the New York Times reported this August, neither Bank of America nor JPMorgan Chase (who both have positions similar to PNC’s on MTR) has done business with Massey Energy since they adopted their policies.

In recent years, PNC has provided financing for six of the biggest MTR coal mining companies, earning them the title of “US Leading MTR funder.” We’re optimistic that this is now changing.

2 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Jenn Breckenridge says:

    Go GFC! You’re a dream team! After the banking industry stops financing MTR, what needs to happen for mountaintop removal to be abolished? What initiatives do we all need to get behind?

  2. Thanks for the support Jenn!

    Let’s first be clear about what we’re looking at. There’s a way to go before “the banking industry stops financing MTR”. Here is a series of bank policies that recognize the regulatory risks (the enforcement of legislation such as the Clean Water Act is tightening) and the reputational risks (the majority of the US public is opposed to mountaintop removal) associated with financing companies that mine coal in Appalachia by blowing up mountains.

    Only one of these banks – Swiss giant, Credit Suisse – has explicitly committed not to finance the sector. The other banks use a range of different language to talk about ‘limiting’ their financing, or avoiding companies that practice the largest quantities of MTR. Take, for example, this extract from Wells Fargo’s policy: “our involvement with the practice of MTR is limited and declining.”

    As recently as 2008 there was not a single bank with a policy on financing mountaintop removal. Today we are at the stage where seven of the biggest banks that were previously indiscriminately funding this devastating practice, have formally recognized that this is a very serious environmental and social issue, and stated, to varying degrees, their intention to limit or restrict financing of this sector of industry. This is solid progress, but not ‘game over’.

    So, our next steps: we need to make sure that these banks strictly implement their policies and strongly encourage them to strengthen their commitments. RAN will continue to monitor their financial deals and we will also be reporting on their progress.

    We also need to keep up our pressure on the bodies whose job it is to enforce laws such as the Clean Water Act. Back in April the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published new guidance on MTR permits and now that agency is collecting public comments on this topic. Please consider taking a few minutes of your day to contact the EPA, urge them to enforce the Clean Water Act in its strictest sense and abolish mountaintop removal mining by issuing no new permits and vetoing existing permits.

Trackbacks For This Post

  1. The Understory » Rainforest Action Network Victories: Top Ten of 2010

Leave a Comment Here's Your Chance to Be Heard!

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.