Asleep at the Wheel? 3 Reasons Why IL Lawmaker is Against Coal Tar Ban

Representative Reick,

I am taking the time to respond to you because I believe you might have some political courage to have an open mind and act beyond the current agenda of your party. You might be surprised at the fundamentals we agree on, but your conclusions appear to be a leap of convenience which ignores some key facts.

If you really don’t have the courage to go against your peers on this, then you can stop reading right now.

I actually wrote an article about it recently entitled, “In Search of Some Political Courage.” You might read it if interested here:

But if you’re interested…. I think you miss the point in your 3 part synopsis. Here’s why:


The role of government is to create an environment to flourish. We agree on this. However flourishing for the public is akin to the “health, welfare and general well-being.”

Exposure to these chemicals is linked to impaired IQ, behavior problems and cancer. How about asthma being triggered by coal tar sealers. That doesn’t sound like the “circumstances for flourishing” either does it?


1. You don’t want to hurt Illinois businesses? What if you knew that most coal tar in this country comes from China and Mexico and that the production in Stickney will likely continue even with out sealers. So you support imported carcinogens that hurt our homes and families for a few jobs. Why? Even so they can sell it in other states and there are many other products which are made at that facility. I would be willing to bet it isn’t even it the top of the revenue stream there.

Most domestic coal tar production is for aluminum manufacturing not sealcoat. Recent reports are that the domestic aluminum production is the rise and so is the use of domestic coal tar supplies for that purpose.

Small Government

2. Least government. Believe or not, we agree on this assumption as well. An example of low or no government intervention is when business takes responsibility for their products and remove the potential damage to its customers. Like Lowes and Home Depot did 10 years ago with coal tar sealers when they took them off the shelves–voluntarily.

But the commercial side of the industry which makes up 90% or so of the market has dug their heels in and is fighting this reality. They are a bad actor and that is when regulation is necessary.

Best Management Practices

3. You assume that through some best practices the damage caused by this product can be made acceptable. None of the methods you mention does anything to protect human health. And research shows that DNA damage happens to aquatic species from runoff more than 100 days after application.

So we agree on your assumptions but your straw man arguments wouldn’t stand up to a stiff wind across an Illinois corn field. Will you reconsider your position or are you truly just asleep at the wheel?