The Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) is coming to Pittsburgh once again to challenge PNC’s financing of mountaintop mining.
The group made headlines last year as members set out on a 17-day walk from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to protest during the annual shareholders meeting.
While they’re not walking this year, EQAT will be protesting at Tuesday’s meeting.
PNC’s 2012 Corporate Responsibility Report states the bank “does not extend credit to individual MTR (mountaintop removal) mining projects or to a coal producer that receives a majority of its production from MTR mining.”
The bank refused to comment on the group’s charges saying, “PNC’s practice is not to comment on third parties.”
According the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mountaintop mining involves removing mountaintops to expose coal seams, taking out the upper seams of coal, excavating lower layers of coal with remains placed in piles and then re-grading and re-vegetating the site.
There are no current mountaintop mining sites in Pennsylvania; most are located in eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia, western Virginia and areas of eastern Tennessee.
EQAT Board Member Ingrid Lakey told WESA's Essential Pittsburgh they want to see the bank pull their money from the practice now.
“I think they have a choice to make and it’s one of these things they could draw it out and draw it out and draw it out, but there’s not actually even that much coal left in Appalachia,” Lakey said. “So why not actually start planning for the future now?”
The EPA has studied streams near mountaintop mining and found an increase in minerals in the water which could affect fish and other animals, “leading to less diverse and more pollutant-tolerant species,” but the agency found that “cumulative environmental costs have not been identified.”
Lakey said when they attended their first shareholders meeting two years ago, PNC was responsive to their calls and sent out a vice president to investigate mountaintop mining, but they didn’t make any changes and has since stopped responding to the group.
Lakey said EQAT is now asking people to divest from the bank and put money elsewhere. She said they’ve tracked about $3 million having been pulled from the bank since they started their campaign.
Listen to the full interview with Lakey here.