Quaker Group- stopped bank's finance to mountaintop removal

Quaker Group- stopped bank's finance to mountaintop removal

Postby Oscar » Sat Mar 21, 2015 3:48 pm

How a Small Quaker Group Forced PNC Bank to Stop Financing Mountaintop Removal

[ http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/2973 ... op-removal ]

Saturday, 21 March 2015 00:00 By George Lakey, Waging Nonviolence

After five years of action by Earth Quaker Action Team, PNC Bank announced a shift in its policy on March 2 that will effectively cease its financing of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.

This marks a major turnaround for the nation’s seventh largest bank, which for years refused to budge on this issue. After more than 125 actions, their desire to continue business as usual proved no match for Earth Quaker Action Team, or EQAT, and our allies.

EQAT (pronounced “equate”) acted in solidarity with the frontline resistance coordinated by the Alliance for Appalachia. Over 500 mountains had been blown up, covering an area the size of Delaware. Cancer and birth defect rates shot up because of the toxins that poisoned the air and water supply, and the jobs lost to extreme extraction depopulated towns in the region.

As more and more banks stop financing mountaintop removal, we expect the coal companies to have more trouble over the next few years securing financing for extreme extraction.

EQAT began as a tiny group, protesting in PNC bank branches and PNC-sponsored community events. We marched 200 miles across Pennsylvania to PNC’s headquarters in Pittsburgh. We learned to hold pray-ins, get arrested and disrupt shareholders meetings. We inspired people to pull over $3.5 million out of PNC bank deposits. In December, EQAT pulled off 31 actions in 12 states and Washington, D.C., within 24 hours. It became clear to PNC that EQAT was growing and would never go away until the bank changed.

Controversial Strategy Choices

The group made a number of decisions along the way that attracted criticism, even from some who agreed with EQAT that global warming is a threat. One was to focus on a bank instead of political authorities. The Environmental Protection Agency and politicians are the legitimate deciders on environmental policy, we were told. Why target a bank that is only doing its job?

We chose our target believing everyone needs to take responsibility for their role in the unfolding disaster of climate change, including banks whose financial decisions have enormous consequences compared with most individuals and groups.

A Princeton study released in 2014 gave support for our choice to target the economic elite. The study found major policy decisions in the United States don’t result from the normal political processes, but from the economic elite telling politicians what to do. Billionaire Warren Buffett earlier put it more pungently to the New York Times, when he said, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

EQAT recognized that many Americans are in denial about the class warfare raging around them. Targeting a bank, we though, might help people smell the coffee.


[ http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/2973 ... op-removal ]
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