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EPA’s Reliance On Outdated Studies Results in Challenge of Two Publications Regarding Refined Coal Tar-Based Sealants submitted a Request for Correction (RfC) of information to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Data Quality Act (DQA). The RfC challenges the EPA’s reliance on outdated papers that offer theories about the alleged impact of refined coal tar-based sealants (RTS) on the environment. All of the studies cited by the EPA were published years ago by staff affiliated with the US Geological Survey (USGS) or the City of Austin. Most of the conclusions proffered in these publications have been called into question by more recent peer reviewed articles and comments published in well respected scientific journals. Up to now, the more recent literature concerning RTS has been overlooked by the EPA. The RfC is available on EPA’s Information Quality web site.

One EPA publication that specifically has been challenged can be found at the EPA’s CADDIS website. CADDIS is an EPA initiative developed to help scientists and engineers assess the manner in which aquatic systems can be affected by a large number of “stressors,” such as those commonly associated with urbanization. Guidance offered by the EPA at this website emphasizes how important it is to consider all relevant evidence when determining the cause or causes of various environmental impacts. The guidance strongly encourages consultation with industry stakeholders who may have important insights and expertise. However, when it comes to RTS, the EPA thus far has failed to solicit input from or consider industry funded research. This oversight has forced to use the formal RfC process as a way to update the EPA, and the public, about the manner in which the scientific literature has evolved. As pointed out in the RfC, the EPA also has overlooked reports and studies prepared by other government agencies that have failed to support the RTS hypotheses offered by the USGS and the City of Austin in their older studies. also seeks correction of a document titled Coal-Tar Sealcoat, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, and Stormwater Pollution which purports to define a “Stormwater Best Management Practice.” Again, in generating this document, the EPA has relied on outdated articles published by the USGS and City of Austin team even though those articles have been critiqued in more recent peer reviewed publications. Such selective use of the scientific literature, citing articles only on one side of a scientific debate, is an example of what appears to be White Hat Bias (“bias leading to the distortion of information in the service of what may be perceived to be righteous ends.”). Since evidence documented in many articles and comments on RTS have been omitted from this second EPA document, was forced to address these issues as well in the RfC that has just been filed. has challenged the USGS studies via three DQA filings since May, 2013, available on the USGS web site. That process is still ongoing.

A Rough Guide to Spotting Bad Science

A Rough Guide to Spotting Bad Science

I wondering if this would help the USGS Scientific Integrity Officer since they do not seem to be able to detect any “bad science”.  I will say they are excellent at protecting their organization rather than protecting science.  Perhaps a new title is in order?  Organization Protection Officer?

This website is also very interesting:





The Use of Preliminary Scientific Evidence in Public Health

The Use of Preliminary Scientific Evidence in Public Health

The Use of Preliminary Scientific Evidence in Public Health

Problems of implementing public policy too quickly. 

This can be applied to a great deal of the environment “issues” today. 



Product demarketing and deselection: How to ban products without the use of regulations

Product demarketing and deselection:  How to ban products without the use of regulations

Part 1:  Product demarketing

Kotler and Levy (1971) define the concept of demarketing as “that aspect of marketing that deals with discouraging  customers in general or a certain class of customer in particular on either a temporary or permanent basis” (p. 75).   Used within its original context, demarketing was mainly a tool used by for profit companies to change demand in very specialized circumstances.  However, Kotler and Levy (1971) did provide an example where demarketing was utilized in the realm of ecotourism and sustainability.  Demarketing has evolved more into being associated as a tool within the context of social marketing.  Kotler (1972) noted this change in a paper published after his seminal work.  Wall (2005) now defines demarketing mean changing consumer behaviors and habits with the aspirations of lessening their environmental impact. 

Product demarketing has evolved from a concept that companies utilize to control demand of a product into a tool that various governmental entities have utilized to control the demand of products and services (Armstrong & Kern, 2011; Beeton & Benfield, 2002; Beeton & Pinge, 2003; Groff, 1998; Medway, Warnaby, & Dharni, 2010; Shiu, Hassan, & Walsh, 2009; Sodhi, 2011; Wall, 2005).  With the change in context, the users of demarketing has also changed.  Governmental entities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have used this tool to change product/service demands or attitudes such as smoking, gun control, alcohol and changing behaviors and attitudes to be more accepting of sustainable environmental attitudes (Gundlach, Bradford, & Wilkie, 2010; Wall, 2005).


In examples from the Great Lakes Coal Tar PAH Reduction Project, product demarketing utilized biased messages in order to purposely damage the product coal tar based pavement sealer.  Al Innis from Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) stated that “they” have found that product bans are often difficult to get passed at any level of government (Innes, 2013).   

Examples from Great Lakes Coal Tar Sealcoat PAH Reduction Project

            University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension-Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center (UW SHWEC)

            UW SHWEC many examples of demarketing coal tar based pavement sealer.  What make this demarketing even more severe is that SHWEC was selectively utilizing the studies that gave the largest negative impact.  Since these were produced in an academic setting, this would be an example of citation and selection biases (Liebl, 2012; University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension-Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center, 2012a, 2012b, 2012c).  In no way was SHWEC utilizing the body of literature that shows that disproves theories advanced by USGS, MPCA and others. 

            UW SHWEC contacted over three hundred sealer applicators in December 2012 and relayed the following points to customers:

●”toxic chemicals” in the sealer;

●”contains chemicals that can cause cancer”;

●”We encourage you to stop using coal tar containing products immediately”;

●”The Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center is dedicated to enhancing Wisconsin’s economy and environment though education to business and communities”(University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension-Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center, 2013). 

            In the examples given, UW SHWEC clearly utilized product demarketing in order to promote their biased agenda.

            Minnesota Pollution Control Agency-MPCA

            Between the MPCA and Great Lakes Coal Tar Sealcoat PAH Reduction Project, there is no question that MPCA is engaging in demarketing activity.  Examples include:

Phase-out and replacement of coal tar-based sealcoats with safer alternatives and practices will reduce loading of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to surface waters and sediments in Great Lakes states and provinces, and reduce hazards to children and vulnerable adults playing, living or working near coal tar-sealed surfaces like drives, parking lots, and playgrounds”(Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 2013b);

●” To aid in the transition to safer alternatives, project partners asked sealcoating suppliers and contractors to pledge that they will not sell or apply sealcoats containing coal tar. The companies on this map have all made this pledge, reducing the release of potentially-harmful chemicals into our environment”(Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 2013a) and;

The safer alternatives typically work best in a narrower range of surface condition, temperature, and humidity than is needed for coal tar, so the experience of these early-adopting companies could produce better results for pavement owners. However, the final decision on choice of safer alternative and provider rests with the owner, so be sure to ask the questions suggested in the Choosing alternatives to coal tar-based pavement sealcoats guidance and research thoroughly before making your decisions”(Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 2013a).  The odd thing about this statement is MPCA wants the consumer to make a “choice” when purchasing sealer, however, MPCA will give you a biased story so the consumer cannot make an informed decision. In addition, Minnesota took the right of consumer choice away from its citizens when they banned coal tar based sealer earlier in 2014.

In part 2, we will examine a second tool know as product deselection or substitution principle which the purpose is to take away a citizen’s right to choose.   



Armstrong, E. K., & Kern, C. L. (2011). Demarketing manages visitor demand in the Blue Mountains National Park. Journal of Ecotourism, 10(1), 21-37. doi: 10.1080/14724040903427393

Beeton, S., & Benfield, R. (2002). Demand Control: The Case for Demarketing as a Visitor and Environmental Management Tool. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 10(6), 497-513. doi: 10.1080/09669580208667184

Beeton, S., & Pinge, I. (2003). Casting the Holiday Dice: Demarketing Gambling to Encourage Local Tourism. Current Issues in Tourism, 6(4), 309-322. doi: 10.1080/13683500308667958

Groff, C. (1998). Demarketing in park and recreation management. Managing Leisure, 3(3), 128-135. doi: 10.1080/136067198376030

Innes, A. (2013, November 20,). Great Lakes Coal Tar Sealcoat PAH Reduction Project Webinar 2:  State/Provincial Programs. from

Liebl, D. (2012). Toxic Driveway Sealants=Public Health Hazard. from

Medway, D., Warnaby, G., & Dharni, S. (2010). Demarketing places: Rationales and strategies. Journal of Marketing Management, 27(1-2), 124-142. doi: 10.1080/02672571003719096

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. (2013a). Find companies selling or applying safer sealcoat.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. (2013b). Great Lakes Coal Tar Sealcoat PAH Reduction Project. from

Shiu, E., Hassan, L. M., & Walsh, G. (2009). Demarketing tobacco through governmental policies – The 4Ps revisited. Journal of Business Research, 62(2), 269-278. doi:

Sodhi, K. (2011). Has marketing come full circle? Demarketing for sustainability. Business Strategy Series, 12(4), 177-185. doi: 10.1108/17515631111155133

University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension-Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center. (2012a). Beware of toxic driveway sealants. from

University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension-Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center. (2012b). Coal Tar-Based Asphalt Sealcoats-A Health and Environmental Hazard. from

University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension-Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center. (2012c). Identifying Coal Tar Based Asphalt Sealcoats-A Guide for Applicators. from

University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension-Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center. (2013). Applicator’s Contact Letter. from

Wall, A. P. (2005). Government demarketing: different approaches and mixed messages. European Journal of Marketing, 39(5/6), 421-427. doi: 10.1108/03090560510590647