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"We haven't sold products with coal tar sealants for several years, about 10 years, I believe," said Stephen Holmes, director of corporate communications for The Home Depot.
Proposals to ban the use of coal tar sealants in Michigan were first introduced in 2009 by former state Rep. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor). That legislation, and three subsequent bills based on it, have all died in committees, where the proposals failed to gain a hearing.
The most current legislation was proposed on December 17, 2015, by Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton), as HB 5174. That bill was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources, where it has yet to be taken up.
Pagan, who also represents Van Buren Township, said the bill came up just after the city passed its ban on coal tar sealants.
"Coal tar driveway sealcoats present a real health and safety risk for Michigan residents, and are damaging to our air and waterways," she said. "I am proud to represent Van Buren Township, which just passed Michigan's first municipal ban on coal tar sealant, and am excited to lead the charge for a statewide ban on the sale and application of this toxic and all-too common product."
Rep. Andrea Lafontaine (R), who represents parts of Macomb and St. Clair counties, chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources. A spokesman from her office said she has been in communication with Pagan; however, the bill has not yet been scheduled to be picked up this fall.
State Sen. Rebekah Warren, of Ann Arbor, said she and Pagan have been working on an updated version of the bill that she expects to be introduced into the Senate in September or October. She said the issue first came up when a constituent brought it to her attention.
"There are a lot of concerns in terms of the potential carcinogenic properties," she said about coal tar sealants. "We introduced a ban in 2008 at the end of the session, just to get it on record. We have a new version that Kristy Pagan and I have been working on for a while. Both of our individual communities have taken action on it."
In 2015, a team of researchers with the Huron River Watershed Council set out to look for effects of coal tar sealants in the environment. The group identified detention ponds in Ann Arbor that capture high amounts of runoff from parking lots and driveways. Sampling from three detention ponds found highly toxic levels of PAH, which the researchers believe is coming from coal tar sealants. The research spurred the city's subsequent ban on certain sealcoat with high levels of PAHs....continued on page 8