Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) was founded in late 2009 by Quakers from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. (We celebrated our 10 year anniversary in 2020. You can view a slideshow of actions and events here.)
In 2010, EQAT launched our first campaign — Bank Like Appalachia Matters (BLAM!). We asked PNC Bank, a historically Quaker bank, to withdraw financing from corporations who engage in mountaintop removal coal mining. Over the next five years, we used nonviolent direct action to shine the light on PNC Bank’s lead role as one of the primary financiers of this devastating surface mining practice which has destroyed more than 500 mountains, 2,000 miles of river and stream-beds, and cost countless lives in Appalachia.
Even in the midst of our primary campaigns, EQAT has periodically felt led and able to respond to calls from the wider climate change and social justice movements. In March 2014, at the request of the national movement against the Keystone XL Pipeline, we coordinated a prompt action in Philadelphia calling attention to conflicts of interest regarding this pipeline. We provided 6 trainings and led an action with 200 people in which 29 were arrested for civil disobedience. Many more were willing to risk arrest.
In 2015, EQAT launched our second campaign — Power Local Green Jobs — calling on utility companies to take responsibility for creating green jobs and benefiting poor communities and communities of color by making a major shift to relying on locally generated solar power for electricity. For six years, we pressured PECO, the electrical utility in southeastern Pennsylvania, to take action on the climate crisis and invest in our communities through local solar and green jobs.
Because of our pressure, PECO has boosted the local solar economy and invested in job creation for Black and Brown community members. It created and expanded a solar department, began sourcing the solar electricity it does provide from local solar projects, upgraded the electrical grid to make it more solar-ready, invested in local solar initiatives and job training, improved its home solar application process, and held Solar Stakeholder Collaboratives for local agencies and solar companies.
Even though these actions are incremental to the bigger vision we believe PECO can hold, the Power Local Green Jobs Campaign got PECO moving. However, it became clear that, if we wanted to see PECO take bolder action, it would require a different kind of pressure -- specifically from our allies and partners who can push PECO from new angles. As a community that honors nimbleness and good strategy, we decided to step back from the Power Local Green Jobs Campaign and allow our campaign partner POWER to take the lead in this continuing fight.
You can read more about the EQAT’s transition out of the PLGJ campaign here.
In 2021, EQAT joined as an anchor partner in the Vanguard's Very Big Problem campaign, an international effort targeting Vanguard -- the world's largest investor in coal and #2 investor in major climate-harming projects across the globe, and whose headquarters are in Philadelphia's backyard -- to deal with its climate problem and invest for a livable future.