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Coal Tar Sealants Are An Environmental Justice Issue For Nation's Largest Land Owner

The nation's largest land owner, the US Department of the Interior, has a different, but accurate take on the problem of coal tar seala...

The nation's largest land owner, the US Department of the Interior, has a different, but accurate take on the problem of coal tar sealant pollution: it can be an injustice to the nation's poor through their cultural or subsistence use of our natural resources.

The US Department of the Interior (DOI), the parent department overseeing the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation, has control over more than 25% of the United States land area and includes enough roads to circle Earth more than 8 times.  They are also the overseer department of the United States Geological Survey, which has done the bulk of scientific research into this area.

Brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) from Ashumet Pond, Cape Cod, 
Massachusetts, with body-surface and oral lesions from USGS.
In a report released in March 2012 (report link), the DOI has begun to fulfill a federal requirement to address possible adverse impacts to minority or low-income communities.  Their vision statement says the goal is "to  provide outstanding management of the natural and cultural resources entrusted to us in a manner that is sustainable, equitable, accessible, and inclusive of all populations."

Coal tar sealant pollution injustice is mentioned as part of Goal #3:
The Department will, on its own or in collaboration with partners, identify and address environmental impacts that may result in disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority, low-income, or tribal populations.
The report acknowledges coal tar sealant pollution in urban centers across the US, but specifically mentions the Anacostia River in and around Washington, DC.  Here some species, like the bullhead catfish pictured above, have cancer at a rate of 2 out of every 3 fish and therefore are not recommended to eat.  Only 8 ounces per month is recommended for large mouth bass!  If this was your only affordable protein source, you can see how this negatively affects the poor.

The big question here is this: will this behemoth of an organization decide to eliminate the use of this product through all of its sub-departments and if so how effectively will this be communicated?

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Coal Tar Free America: Coal Tar Sealants Are An Environmental Justice Issue For Nation's Largest Land Owner
Coal Tar Sealants Are An Environmental Justice Issue For Nation's Largest Land Owner
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Coal Tar Free America
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