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PNC Bank Loses Customers over Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

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PNC Bank Loses Customers over Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

Earth Quaker Action Team

Members of Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) started withdrawing their money from PNC Bank this morning in an organized effort to pressure the bank to end all financing for companies that practice a controversial form of surface coal mining known as mountaintop removal.

Thirty people gathered at PNC Regional Headquarters at 1600 Market Street in downtown Philadelphia on the first day of EQAT’s “Green Your Money” initiative. “I opened my account at PNC in the early 1990’s because I liked what I saw and heard about PNC’s stated commitment for ‘community and quality of life,’” said Merion resident Laura Jackson. “But, with great regret, I must close my PNC account because a bank which disrespects the community and quality of life in Appalachia has too small a vision to truly respect community and quality of life anywhere.”

At least five other groups gathered in communities across the state, from Lower Bucks County to Pittsburgh, Pa.

Five members of the Delaware Chapter of the the Sierra Club gathered at 9 a.m. in front of the PNC Bank in downtown Wilmington, De., to applaud their board which announced support for the EQAT initiative, closed its corporate PNC bank accounts, and publicly encouraged its members to do the same.  “Mountaintop removal destroys communities and devastates the environment, so we join other environmental organizations, including the Philadelphia-based Earth Quaker Action Team and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club, that have also made the pledge to close their accounts with PNC Bank,” said Amy Roe, conservation chair for the Delaware Chapter.

“This is just the first day of an ongoing initiative. Until PNC Bank stops all involvement in mountaintop removal, we will continue to recruit PNC customers to close their bank accounts,” said Walter Hjelt Sullivan, EQAT program director. “As the merger of a Pittsburgh bank and a Philadelphia Quaker bank, PNC is uniquely positioned to lead the financial services industry into a sustainable energy economy for the future. Instead, they prefer to pose as a green bank while quietly squeezing the last dirty profits out of a dying Appalachian coal industry.”

“By the end of this first phase, over $2 million will have been withdrawn from various PNC branches,” said Sullivan. “The next round of account holders is ready to go.”

Earth Quaker Action Team announced this initiative at a press conference on Feb. 29, giving PNC Bank 90 days to announce a new strict policy. The small Philadelphia-based organization completed a 17-day, 200-mile walk to PNC national headquarters in Pittsburgh to publicize the program, network with sympathetic organizations, and educate the public.

“We arrived on May 16, having done actions at over a dozen PNC branches along the way. More than 250 people participated in the Walk for some period of time; two of us walked every day,” said Swarthmore professor George Lakey, who closed his own PNC account today at the branch around the corner from the college. “The mass media gave us great coverage, and PNC looks worse and worse as it rigidly sticks to its ‘no comment’ strategy. Their silence is deafening."

Visit EcoWatch's MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL page for more related news on this topic.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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