Magazine article American Banker

PNC Urged to Stop Financing Controversial Mining

Magazine article American Banker

PNC Urged to Stop Financing Controversial Mining

Article excerpt

Byline: Dean Anason

A chief executive has to be ready for everything a especially at the annual meeting.

Just ask James Rohr, the chairman and chief executive of PNC Financial Services Group (PNC), who presided over its shareholder gathering Tuesday.

The official agenda was going as planned. Happy company video? Check. Say on pay vote? Approved. Re-election of the full board? Done.

But amid that popped up the questions about a[bar] mountaintop removal. The controversial coal mining practice pits environmentalists against job advocates in West Virginia and other places in the Appalachians. Critics say the surface mining technique deforests environmentally sensitive areas and pollutes air and water; supporters say it creates jobs in depressed areas and that mountain hills can be rebuilt.

Four attendees of the meeting raised polite but firm objections to the fact that PNC does business with mining interests that engage in mountaintop removal. One such customer is Alpha Natural Resources, which acquired the highly controversial Massey Energy Co. in June, they said.

"PNC's continued investment in MTR coal companies represents a very poor choice," said Carolyn McCoy, the chair of an advocacy group called Earth Quaker Action Team. "MTR threatens the quality of life of every man, woman and child and even unborn child in areas near mountaintop removal coal mining.

Rohr said several times that PNC had changed its policies in dealing with customers in the mining business.

"We don't finance mountaintop removal mining projects, and we don't finance any mining company that has mountaintop mining as the majority of their activities," he said. It finances companies that are in the business, but such customers on average devote 8% of their activities to mountaintop removal, Rohr said.

PNC had a tough decision, he said, in seeking to be environmentally responsible while trying not to hurt the many people that work for large energy companies. …

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