Dear President Amy Gutmann:
We, the undersigned organizations of the University of Pennsylvania, wish to express our deep concern with the financial relationship between our University and PNC Bank. (PNC Bank has a pervasive presence on campus. Penn states on its website that “in exchange for the opportunity to promote its programs to the University Community, PNC [Bank] provides Penn with financial contributions.”)
Though its marketing attempts to portray it as a green bank, PNC holds the distinction of being the number-one financier of Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining in the United States.
MTR is a hugely destructive form of strip mining in which coal companies blast as much as 800 to 1,000 feet off the tops of mountains in order to reach coal seams underneath, dumping millions of tons of removed materials into surrounding valleys, burying nearby streams and poisoning the ecosystem. This practice has been linked to unimaginable suffering; its consequences include chronic health disease (cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure), displaced families and communities, loss of biodiversity and deforestation, significant economic strain on local people and substantial and irreversible harm to the Appalachian Mountains, the oldest mountain chain in the world. The magnitude and scope of destruction involved in MTR is appalling, and we recognize that we have a serious ethical responsibility to take measures to end this practice.
We call on Penn, in the spirit of honest leadership in addressing ecological sustainability, to release to the Penn community the details of Penn’s relationship with PNC Bank. While the University has taken considerable strides toward sustainability through the Climate Action Plan of 2009, Penn’s business relationships and investment decisions present a serious shortcoming to the University’s environmental commitment. (In contrast to “A”s and “A-minuses” in other areas, Penn received a grade “D” on the 2011 College Sustainability Report Card in the area of Endowment Transparency.)
We ask the University to join us in requesting that PNC Bank commit to a sector exclusion of all companies that practice MTR. If PNC has not demonstrated this commitment by Jan. 31, 2012, we ask that the University pledge to enter into no further contracts with PNC. We look forward to your thoughtful response in addressing the serious ethical concern that we are bringing to your attention, and we have hope that our great university will live seriously into its commitment to a greener future.
Civic House Associates Coalition
United Minorities Council
Penn Vegan Society
Student Labor Action Project
Penn Environmental Group
Green Campus Partnership Student Association Board
Penn Haven Co-op
Penn Activists Coming Together
Society for Pre-Law Students of Color
Asian Pacific Students Coalition
Penn Consortium of Undergraduate Women
Student Nurses at Penn
Penn Political Review
Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention
Male Nurses at Penn
Penn Encore Society
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