Members of Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) launched a website and held a press conference on Feb. 29 with 50 attendees to kick-off their Green Your Money Initiative. Green Your Money is a program to encourage consumers to close their accounts with PNC and pressure the bank to end all financing for companies that practice a controversial form of surface coal mining known as mountaintop removal. EQAT said they are giving PNC until May 31, 2012, or 90 days, to do so.
Kathy Miller, peace activist and member of Chestnut Hill Quaker Meeting announced that her congregation has formally decided to remove $1.9 million, which they have raised to build a new meetinghouse, from their current PNC accounts. “We are deeply concerned about this major destruction of the environment, and think it is important that the financial business and transactions of the Meeting are conducted in accordance with Quaker values and testimonies,” Miller said.
Chris Nicholson spoke of his Quaker grandfather, co-founder of Provident National Bank, commonly known as “the Quaker Bank,” which, after merging with Pittsburgh National in 1982, became PNC Financial Services. “He was a scientist, botanist, and astronomer, and an active Quaker. He had a strong interest in environmental issues and I am sure that he would object now to PNC money being used for destructive mining practices.”
Pallavi Podapati represented members of the Temple and Penn Communities Against Mountaintop Removal, who met last month with senior PNC executives and are now organizing Green Your Money campaigns on both campuses. In addition, Swarthmore professor George Lakey announced plans for a Green Walk for Jobs and Justice, a 200 mile, 16-day walk between Philadelphia and PNC National Headquarters in Pittsburgh, stopping at Quaker meetings, like-minded congregations and PNC banks along the way.
Following the press conference, 30 participants walked to PNC regional headquarters, where they were locked out in the rain by the bank. The demonstrators were able to hand deliver a letter to PNC Philadelphia Regional President J. William Mills, and posted their pledge to the front door of the bank. “By joining together, we can call PNC Bank back into integrity with its publicly stated values, stand with the people of Appalachia, and help take the profit out of financing climate change,” said Walter Hjelt Sullivan, program director with EQAT.
Mountaintop removal is a form of surface mining practiced in Appalachia that uses explosives to access the coal beneath. Recently released studies have associated high rates of respiratory disease, cancer and birth defects with proximity to these mining sites. EQAT has given PNC bank until May 31st to enact a ‘sector exclusion’ that would end its investments in companies that practice mountaintop removal, and has opened the website “GreenPNC.org” to collect Green Your Money pledges.
According to Rainforest Action Network, PNC Bank, which claims to have done “more to energize the green cause” than any other major bank, is one of the largest financiers of mountaintop removal. Published reports show that PNC has provided loans in the last year to companies responsible for up to 47 percent of all mountaintop removal mining, in spite of issuing a new policy in 2010 which appears to distance the bank from the practice.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.