Maryland: the Coal Tar ‘Free State’

****UPDATE via Twitter 11/12/2015

It’s official! Bill signed; veto averted! 40% of #Maryland now coal tar free; thanks #AnneArundel @ChrisTrumbauer ! 

Despite efforts by two separate industry trade groups and a motion to delay, the Anne Arundel County Board passed a ban of coal tar pavement sealers on Monday.

Anne Arundel County has a population of 560,000 and is home to the state capitol, Annapolis.

With this ban, 3 out of the top 4 counties in Maryland have passed bans. Baltimore County is the only one that hasn’t. The number of Maryland citizens under a ban is just shy of 2.5 million and more than 40% of the state’s population!

The ordinance’s sponsor was Councilman Chris Trumbauer (Annapolis), who is a water quality chemist and former river advocate known as a “riverkeeper.”

Supporters of the legislation included a representative of the League of Conservation Voters who said that this issue is so important to them that this vote would be a factor in the overall scorecard of elected officials. The County Executive’s Office Liaison, Bernard Marczyk, stated that they would not stand in the way of this legislation and reported that the Board of Education may be the lone user of coal tar at the county government level.

One of the water quality advocates mentioned PAH contaminated creek sediments in Church Creek, which drains highly built out sections of Annapolis. This section was reported to be a location of a US Fish and Wildlife study that showed 53% of catfish in the area had tumors from PAHs.

Opposition to the ban came from the Pavement Coatings Technology Council (see “Apples, Oranges and Coal Tar Shampoo“) and the America Coatings Association (see “Coating Association’s Failed Pledge Unpalatable“). Both attempted to delay a vote so that councilmembers could get “more information.” Councilman Trumbauer asked if they really expect to generate anything in addition to the 20 or so pages of information already submitted.

A vote to delay failed 3 to 4.

A vote to pass the ban succeeded 4 to 3.

This ban puts it in a unique position with a significant portion of its population under a ban. Even Minnesota that had nearly 30 local bans only amounted to less than 25% of the statewide population. At some point, the State might as well pass a law that makes it more uniform in all jurisdictions.

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