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It's Watershed-Wide & A National Guide!

Anacostia Watershed First Multi-jurisdictional, Coal Tar Free Watershed in US First was the District of Columbia's ban in 2008 und...

Anacostia Watershed First Multi-jurisdictional, Coal Tar Free Watershed in US


First was the District of Columbia's ban in 2008 under the leadership of Councilmember Mary Cheh. This was followed by Montgomery County's ban sponsored by Councilmember Craig Rice in 2012. This was Maryland's first ban.

Now in April 2015, Prince George's County, MD passed a ban of coal tar pavement sealers. It completed the final piece making the Anacostia Watershed* the nation's first multi-jurisdictional, watershed to be completely coal tar free! Thank you to Councilmember Mary Lehman, the ordinance's primary sponsor.

The 900,000 or so citizens affected by this ban raises the total in the US under a coal tar sealer prohibition to near 17.5 million. The total citizens under these three bans is about 2.5 million.

In 2011 DC's Cheh commented about other jurisdictions following their lead:

“This is a huge step towards reducing PAH levels in District waterways,” said Councilmember Mary Cheh who sponsored the coal tar limitations section of the statute. “Eliminating coal tar pavement products is low-hanging fruit in reducing this major source of pollutant. I hope that other jurisdictions see the environmental benefits and follow suit.”

In 2012 Councilmember Rice said that if this product is not acceptable for the shelves of Home Depot and Lowes, then it isn't acceptable for the driveways and parking lots of his community.

The ban includes two parts. The first is a mandatory public education effort by the County starting July 1, 2015 and the second is for the prohibition on the sale and application of the product which begins January 1, 2016.

Kudos to the Anacostia Watershed SocietySierra Club - Prince George's Group, Clean Water Action - Maryland, and Alice Ferguson Foundation and their members for their support during the effort to pass the ban. Thanks to Trash Free Maryland's Director Julie Lawson for some clarification of the finer points of the new law too.

Industry appeared to do their own calculus on this effort and was a complete no-show in spite of being a short drive from their headquarters in Alexandria, VA. While we look forward to the day that this is the norm, unfortunately there is still a lot of fight in the beast as is evidenced by their actions in other parts of the country.

This is truly a guide to our nation in regional science-based, decision-making for the good of the local communities. May others follow your persistence, and vision for your watershed!

*A watershed is an area of land that drains to a particular lake, stream or river.

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Coal Tar Free America: It's Watershed-Wide & A National Guide!
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