Environmental clubs react to university ties with PNC, fracking
Published: Monday, September 3, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 3, 2012 22:09
University students joined environmentalists outside Trabant University Center on Aug. 25 to inform people that PNC Bank finances mountaintop removal, also known as fracking.
Graduate student Adam Holubinka said he stood in front of the building with members from the Sierra Club, an environmental organization, Occupy Delaware and the Earth Quaker Action Team. Their goal was to bring attention to the banking company’s business practices, he said.
“There were students handing out leaflets, information about mountaintop removal, urging people to do their research on the issue and then deciding whether or not to open an account with PNC,” Holubinka said.
Mountaintop removal is a type of coal mining where miners level the mountains to reach the pockets of coal, according to junior Kelsey Schwenk, a wildlife conservation major. This is a common mining technique used in Appalachia, especially in West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania, she said.
Schwenk, who lives in a region in Pennsylvania where mountaintop removal is common, said the practice has a negative impact on the environment because it erodes the mountain. She said the water supply can get contaminated with methane and other chemicals.
“When you remove [mountaintops] for coal mining, it leads to excess erosion,” Schwenk said. “There can be a lot of problems with acid rain because of the runoff, the dirt through the coal mine areas and the pollutants that come from the coal.”
PNC Bank was chosen by the protesters because of its ties with the university, Holubinka said. PNC formed a partnership with the university in 2010, according to UDaily. Because the school has boasted its commitment to be more sustainable, Holubinka said they should review their alliances.
“I support the university for trying to make the campus greener, they’ve undertaken a lot of sustainability initiatives over the past few years,” he said. “[The university] really needs to look at its ties with some of the companies and businesses that it’s doing business with, such as PNC.”
Occupy Delaware member Jen Wallace, 41, of Newark, said Bank of America also finances mountaintop removal. She said while there are no laws against mountaintop removal as of yet, PNC should face consequences from the public.
“I think we, as a society, need to hold them accountable by refusing to do business with them,” Wallace said.
Holubinka said the goal of the event was not to put PNC Bank out of business. He said it was to cause the company to lose customers so it will consider not doing business with the mining companies.
“All we’re trying to do is raise awareness about PNC’s involvement in financing mountaintop removal and fracking,” Holubinka said. “We’re just hoping PNC sees that this is a pretty big issue that people are starting to understand and we want PNC to stop financing mountaintop removal and fracking.”
Schwenk said she might be looking around for a new financial representative soon.
“Now that I am aware, I might actually have to consider changing my bank and move my money elsewhere,” Schwenk said.
Editor’s note: Due to the holiday weekend, the reporter did not have a chance to speak with the university.