Quakers join protest over PNC-financed mountaintop removal

A group of Quakers will pull money from PNC Bank to protest of the bank’s financing of mountaintop-removal mining. Their campaign began Wednesday with the announcement of $1.9 million in withdrawals.

Will it sway one of the country’s biggest banks?

“If it were the only thing we were doing, probably not,” says Ingrid Lakey, Executive Director of Earth Quaker Action Network. “But we see as a beginning, it’s a pretty good start. That a single institution is willing to make that choice.”

“There are a bunch of Quakers and ‘friends of Friends’ as we like to say who are saying, ‘You know what, unless the bank is going to do the right thing, I’m going to go through that trouble to close my bank account.'”Rainforest Action Network has identified PNC as one of the largest financiers of mountaintop removal.

Lakey anticipates the “Earth Action” financial campaign could grow since a substantial number of Quakers do business with PNC because of its Quaker origins.

“It’s not just the number of people who are actually closing their accounts,” Lakey says. “It’s going to be what’s happening along the way in telling the story about PNC’s relationship to mountaintop-removal coal mining.”

PNC representatives said in January that the bank cannot make political statements with its lending. In response to pressure, bank officials said last year PNC would stop lending to companies that do more than 50 percent of their business in the controversial mining technique. A group of Quakers, including Lakey’s 74-year-old father, will march from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh this spring to share their cause.

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