Students plan to rally today’s Board of Trustees meeting.
Students intend to stage a protest at the Board of Trustees public session meeting today, Oct. 11, against PNC Bank financing companies that use mountaintop removal coal mining.
Organizers said Temple’s affiliation with PNC, which is the leading financer of companies that use MTR, has led them to seek trustees’ support.
The group does not have an official title and hopes approximately 20 people will gather outside the meeting in Sullivan Hall.
MTR is a controversial form of coal mining that involves removing part of the mountaintop “to expose coal seams, and disposing of the associated mining overburden in adjacent valleys,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The disposed materials are called “valley fills.”
“In 2001, [fill] was redefined to include toxic materials,” senior religion and visual anthropology major Brianne Murphy said.
It’s a practice common in Appalachian regions and can lead to greater levels of zinc, sodium, selenium and sulfate in the local water supply, affecting fish and other populations, including humans.
One of the group’s leaders, Luke Byrnes, a 2009 Temple alumnus, was inspired to create the group after getting in contact with Walter Sullivan of the Earth Quaker Action Team, a nonprofit group that campaigns against PNC’s involvement with MTR–practicing companies.
“PNC does not extend credit to individual MTR mining projects or to a coal producer that receives a majority of its production from MTR mining,” a 2011 PNC Corporate Responsibility Report states. “This policy arose from our consideration of the legal, regulatory, and public policy developments concerning MTR activities and the mining industry, as well as discussions with various stakeholders throughout our communities.”
However, the group maintains that the bank’s change is inefficient because most mining companies do not use MTR solely.
“They’ve changed their policy to say that they will not invest in any company that make a majority of their revenue from MTR, however this is very tricky…basically that hardly ever happens,” Murphy said.
TSG Deputy Chief of Staff Brandon Rey-Ramirez stated PNC’s environmental history as the primary issue.
“We would rather have someone with a clean record. That goes for all of the university’s partnerships,” he said.
Because the group did not submit a request before the two-week deadline before the meeting, it can not formally address the board.
Amelia Brust can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.