2nd State Ban of Coal Tar Sealant Nears as Minnesota Legislature Acts!

Today Minnesota’s House and Senate voted to pass a ban of coal tar pavement sealants.  If signed by the governor in the next two weeks, Minnesota would become the second state in the United States to pass a ban of this product.  The bill is part of a larger bill called the Omnibus Legacy Bill (HF 1183 & SF 1051).  The ban amendment was in the House version, out in the Senate version and back into the consent bill in the last 24 hours.  The effective date is scheduled to be January 1, 2014.

In 2011, the State of Washington passed the nation’s first ban with the sponsor prophetically saying, “we may be the first, but we won’t be the last.”

The bill’s sponsor in the House of Representatives was Representative Rick Hansen, who represents some suburban communities that most likely will be paying for the increased cost of disposal of sediments from stormwater ponds.  Representative Hansen is a biologist as well as a former local public official.  In a previous post by Coal Tar Free America, he cited both of those qualifications as helpful in bringing this legislation forward.

The passage is the near culmination of a lot of courageous effort over several years by state employees, environmental organizations and local municipalities.  I remember the myriad of questions by the officials of White Bear Lake, who passed the State’s first municipal ban, in spite of heavy pressure from the industry.

The first statewide legislative effort in Minnesota was made in 2009 by then State Representative Bev Scalze, who is now a state senator. This legislation that led to an end to the use of this product by Minnesota state agencies and set up a funding mechanism to assist communities with the cleanup of ponds contaminated with PAHs from coal tar sealants. Scalze said that there are many cities that are going to have to deal with this in the future.  This bill was the carrot that encouraged many local communities to act.

While this isn’t the nation’s first coal tar sealant ban, it is the first in a state that more than likely has historically high coal tar sealer usage. It is estimated less than 1/3 of the sealant used in the State of Washington was coal tar-based, in Minnesota that number at one time was more like 2/3 based upon an industry poll of applicators. If signed, the total number of US citizens under a coal tar sealant ban would rise to nearly 16.5 million.

Those who continue to sell coal tar sealants are now making a marketing ploy with a “get it while it lasts” strategy on Craigslist.

The text of the bill follows:

44.33 Subdivision 1. Definitions. The following terms have the meanings given.
45.1(a) “Coal tar sealant product” means a surface applied sealing product containing
45.2coal tar, coal tar pitch, coal tar pitch volatiles, or any variation assigned the Chemical
45.3Abstracts Service (CAS) numbers 65996–93–2, 65996-89-6, or 8007-45-2.
45.4(b) “Commissioner” means the commissioner of the Pollution Control Agency.
45.5 Subd. 2. Use prohibited. Except as provided in subdivision 4, a person shall not
45.6apply coal tar sealant products on asphalt-paved surfaces.
45.7 Subd. 3. Sale prohibited. Except as provided in subdivision 4, a person shall
45.8not sell a coal tar sealant product that is formulated or marketed for application on
45.9asphalt-paved surfaces.
45.10 Subd. 4. Exemptions. The commissioner may exempt a person from this section if
45.11the commissioner determines that one or both of the following apply:
45.12(1) the person is researching the effects of a coal tar sealant product on the
45.13environment; or
45.14(2) the person is developing an alternative technology and the use of a coal tar
45.15sealant product is required for research or development.
45.16A request for exemption must be made to the commissioner in writing including
45.17an explanation of why the exemption is needed for research, or the development of an
45.18alternative technology.
45.19 Subd. 5. Compliance and enforcement. Local units of government may adopt by
45.20reference and enforce the provisions of this section. The commissioner may provide
45.21technical support to local units of government for compliance and enforcement of
45.22this section. The commissioner may respond to compliance and enforcement cases
45.23transcending jurisdictional boundaries, cases requiring statewide corrective actions, or
45.24requests for assistance or referral from local units of government.
45.25EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective January 1, 2014.

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