PNC meets with students over mountaintop removal lending

Executives from PNC Bank met with students from Temple and the University of Pennsylvania Monday afternoon to talk about mountaintop removal. The students and other environmental activists want the bank to stop lending to coal-mining companies that use the controversial technique.

Brianne Murphy, a student at Temple attended the meeting in Philadelphia with PNC’s corporate secretary and the head of the bank’s Office of Sustainability.

She said PNC is one of the top financiers of mountaintop removal, which levels peaks using explosives and pushes debris into neighboring valleys to reach the seams of coal underneath the rock.

“We’re talking about stopping investment in something that is heightening health risks,” said Murphy. “That is endangering the lives of children in schools that have to attend schools underneath toxic sludge reservoirs … and also heightened risk of asthma, increased birth defects.”

PNC representative Fred Solomon said bank officials had the chance to hear varying opinions in a meeting he called productive. Officials at the meeting told students the bank does not take political stands on issues outside of those affecting the banking industry.

“As a financial institution, they are a collection of individuals,” insisted Ethan Jury, one of eight Temple students arrested for refusing to leave the lobby of PNC’s corporate offices in December. “I think that was our main hope for this meeting that we would be able to communicate our ethical views.”

Students from Temple and the University of Pennsylvania plan to reach out to 35 other campuses that do business with PNC bank in the coming months.

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