Victory! Another Bank Bites the (Coal) Dust

Appalachia Rising March to the White HouseIf you’re in the mountaintop removal coal mining game, now might be a good time to pull out. There’s probably not going to be any money in it for much longer.

PNC Bank has just joined six other major banks — including Bank of America, Citi, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Credit Suisse — in issuing a new policy on MTR coal mining. That leaves just UBS and GE Capital as the only major banks that still support the highly destructive — and, if you ask me, just plain ludicrous — mining practice.

This is a big victory for the massive coalition that has been working to stop the deliberate destruction of Appalachia that has been occurring one mountain at a time at the hands of some of the most rapacious companies on Earth. During the last two months, more than 500 members added their voice to the pressure campaign against PNC, as well.

But while targeting the banks that provide funds to those coal companies has been a major tactic, it’s been far from the only one. Anti-MTR activists have staged non-violent direct actions that shut down mining sites and protests outside EPA urging the agency to veto a specific MTR permit. This past September more than 100 protesters were arrested outside of the White House, where an anti-MTR protest was held on the final day of a massive convergence called Appalachia Rising. Thousands of coal country residents and activists assembled in DC for a conference dubbed “Voices of the Mountains” that concluded with the mass march and action outside the White House.

You could definitely say the anti-MTR movement is heating up. Heck, with over 100 protesters arrested and seven major financial institutions pulling funding, you might say it has boiled over.

Removing sources of funding for MTR is crucial, of course, as it’s no secret that the only thing robber barons like Massey’s Don Blankenship respect is money. The policy PNC announced looks pretty strong, according to my colleagues here at the Rainforest Action Network who have been working hard to expose the devastation wrought by MTR coal extraction and force the institutions bankrolling it to reconsider. PNC’s policy is comparable to the policies issued by many of the other big banks, though perhaps not as strong as Credit Suisse’s policy, which completely bars the bank from providing funding to companies who practice MTR. But only time will tell how PNC intends to implement the policy.

Getting PNC to establish this new policy is an especially important victory because the bank is the top funder of MTR coal mining, providing funds to six of the largest coal companies who continue to see blowing the tops off of mountains and filling streams and valleys with toxic rubble as a cost-effective and modern means of producing energy. To add momentum to this campaign to end MTR mining, you can tell EPA to reject Arch Coal’s permit application to dynamite 2,300 acres of mountain and create one of the biggest MTR mines in Appalachia.

Image credit: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr

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