PNC Bank restricts mountaintop removal financing

PNC Financial Services Group is joining other major banking firms in restricting its financing of mountaintop removal coal mining companies.

The Pittsburgh-based bank said in a recent report on corporate responsibility that it determined the restriction was a good idea for environmental and health reasons, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

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The move, cheered by environmentalists, means that companies that get more than a quarter of their coal production from mountaintop removal. Previously, only coal producers with a majority of production coming from the practice were excluded.

“We see this as a way to continue serving our clients in the region while contributing to a better environment for everyone,” PNC spokesman Fred Solomon told the Post-Gazette.

Earth Quaker Action Team, a group that pressures companies to avoid connections to mountaintop removal, cheered the announcement.

“Five years ago, PNC was one of the top financiers of [mountaintop removal mining],” Earth Quaker spokeswoman Ingrid Lakey told the newspaper. “Now, they are finally acknowledging the environmental and health concerns.”

Mountaintop removal mining is seen as an especially egregious form of mining to environmentalists. They say it permanently alters landscapes and ecosystems, and pollutes or eliminates small streams and rivers.

PNC is the fifth largest bank in the United States. Other major banks that have restricted mountaintop financing include JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, RBS, BNP Paribas and UBS.