"It is time to educate the public about the health risks linked to coal tar sealants," Alderman Burns said. "Other alternatives exist that do not carry the same risks to the public health," he added.
This came on the heels of the Chicago Tribune investigative article about the industry fighting against coal tar bans. Saying this would be a severe blow to the industry, is an understatement. Not only is Chicago home to nearly 3,000,000 souls, but it also is major user of coal tar sealer for driveways, playgrounds and parking lots. Chicago is also the location of a plant for the nation's largest coal tar refiner, Koppers, Inc.
If it passes, then the ban would reduce more coal tar volume than any ban to date, local or state. While the population of the State of Washington, which passed a ban in 2011, is greater, it is a very reasonable conclusion that significantly more coal tar is used per capital and in total in Chicago versus the State of Washington.
Sometimes the more you know, the less certain you are of anything. There are some powerful forces at work here: a powerful politician, an environmentally aware city, an influential corporate citizen, a growing uproar about the human health effects of coal tar sealcoat and of course a strong union presence. If you could predict the outcome of this, then you could have retired years ago.
The ban itself is well written and thoughtful. The next step is for it to be heard in the Committee on Finance, which Alderman Burke chairs. The meeting is likely going to be in the first 10 days of May.
And for the record, in case there is any doubt, we agree with the Alderman that it is time for Chicago to pass a ban of coal tar pavement sealants.