The Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) has been walking from Philadelphia to PNC headquarters in Pittsburgh since April 30th to protest the bank's financing of mountaintop removal coal mining, a type of mining that violates the Clean Water Act and has led to increased rates of birth defects and cancers for thousands of families across Appalachia, according to Zachary Hershman, EQAT campaign director.
Hershman said a bank established by Quakers in the 19th century was one of the institutions that eventually became PNC. At an annual meeting, Hershman said PNC promoted its Quaker values and presented itself as an ethical alternative to other major banks, but its investments don't match those stated values.
At 11:00 AM on Wednesday, May 16, activists will invite PNC Chairman and CEO James Rohr to meet privately with people adversely affected by the mining. Hershman said they will also be training for future occupation of PNC headquarters if the bank doesn't meet their demands. He said EQAT knows PNC cannot overturn its existing loans, "but we know that they can commit to what's known as a 'sector exclusion,' which is a loan policy that would prevent any further investment in the industry, and that kind of commitment would send a message across the financial industry that would be a positive impact for human rights and the environment all over Appalachia."
EQAT has initiated a campaign called "Green Your Money" that asks PNC customers, Quakers and others to withdraw their funds from PNC banks if they don't change their policy by May 31. Hershman said over $2 million have been pledged, not including funds from the entire Pennsylvania chapter of the Sierra Club.