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Eric Diesing, with the Clinton River Watershed Council, said while the group itself hasn't conducted any studies regarding coal tar sealants, it is considering what direction to take on the issue next year and in the future, as the issue is expected to expand into the watershed.
Rebeca Esselman, a watershed planner with the Huron River Watershed Council, said the council began looking at the issue about two years ago, after coal tar sealants were banned in Minnesota. The group has since become the most active in the state, reaching out to communities to talk about potential dangers.
"We started reaching out to the communities in the watershed and providing materials on the issue, and asking to get in front of city councils and township boards to present about coal tar sealants and ask them to take action," Esselman said.
In Michigan, the municipalities of Byron Township, Charlevoix, Clark Township, Erie Township, Fruitland Township, Laketon Township, Scio Township, the Village of Shepherd, Powell Township, Whitehall, Whitehall Township and White River Township have restricted government or public use of coal tar sealants. Ann Arbor, Spring Lake Township and Van Buren Township have banned the use or sale of coal tar based sealcoat. Additionally, the University of Michigan, Lake Superior State University and Kalamazoo College have ended the use of coal tar based sealants on their campuses.
Nationally, more than 45 cities have banned or restricted the use of coal tar based sealants, including Austin, Texas and San Antonio, Texas; as well as the states of Minnesota and Washington. Several counties, including Montgomery and Prince George counties, in Maryland; Suffolk County, in New York; and Dane County, in Wisconsin, have banned the use of coal tar sealants. The San Diego Unified School District; the University of Illinois, Springfield; Lake Forest College, in Illinois, and others have also banned or restricted its use.
Federal legislation to limit the use of coal tar sealant was last introduced in 2013 by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas). The Austin congressman's bill (HR 1625) would have created the Coal Tar Sealants Reduction Act of 2013, which would have amended the Toxic Substances Control Act to phase out the sale, transport and production of coal tar sealants. That bill died in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
In addition, some national home improvement chains have discontinued the sale of coal tar sealants, including Ace Hardware, Lowe's and The Home Depot....continued on page 7