EPA shoots down lead ammo ban petition

Washington – Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency last week denied a request filed by a number of groups to
ban the production and distribution of lead hunting ammunition,
saying the agency lacked legal authority to do so.

The petition was filed under the Toxic Substances Control Act by
a coalition of hunting, veterinary, and conservation groups, and
included a ban of lead fishing tackle. The EPA said in a press
release it continues to review the petition as it relates to lead

Steve Owens, EPA assistant administrator for the Office of
Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, issued a statement
regarding the petition last week.

In it, he said the agency doesn’t have the authority “to
regulate (lead ammunition) under the TSCA – nor is the agency
seeking such authority.”

Further, “EPA is taking action on many fronts to address major
sources of lead in our society, such as eliminating childhood
exposures to lead; however, EPA was not and is not considering
taking action on whether the lead content in hunting ammunition
poses an undue threat to wildlife,” Owens said.

“As there are no similar jurisdictional issues relating to the
agency’s authority over fishing sinkers, EPA – as required by law –
will continue formally reviewing a second part of the petition
related to lead fishing sinkers.”

Public comment regarding the lead fishing tackle aspect of the
petition may be submitted until Sept. 15 at

The Center for Biological Diversity is one of the groups that
signed onto the lead ban petition.

In a press release following the EPA decision, the CBD said
coalition members “expressed dismay” at the rejection of the lead
ammo portion of the petition, stating in the release that “an
estimated 10 to 20 million birds and other animals die each year
from lead poisoning in the United States.”

In a statement, Darin Schroeder, vice president for conservation
advocacy for the American Bird Conservancy – another member of the
coalition – said the EPA could’ve done more to protect

“The EPA had ample evidence that lead bullets and shot have a
devastating effect on America’s wildlife, yet has refused to do
anything about it. It’s disappointing to see this country’s top
environmental agency simply walk away from the preventable
poisoning of birds and other wildlife,” Schroeder said.

Other members of the coalition included the Association of Avian
Veterinarians, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility,
and Project Gutpile.

Coalition members said the petition contained information and
studies – including about 500 peer-reviewed documents –
demonstrating a need for the lead ban, for both tackle and ammo.
The scientific papers illustrated “the widespread dangers of lead
ammunition and fishing tackle,” the groups said.

The coalition questioned the lead ammo exemption cited by EPA

“We strongly believe that the EPA has the clear authority and
duty to regulate this very harmful and toxic substance as used in
bullets and shot, despite the so-called exemption for lead
ammunition that is written into the TSCA,” said Adam Keats, senior
counsel for the CBD, in a press statement.

Several groups opposed the petition, including the National
Shooting Sports Foundation and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance.
Arguments included a lack of evidence that lead was negatively
affecting wildlife populations, and that such a ban would make lead
ammo and tackle cost-prohibitive for some hunters and anglers, and
likely would thereby decrease funding received by state and federal
agencies (license dollars) for conservation work.

Currently, Minnesota hunters must use non-lead ammunition while
hunting small game within national wildlife refuges and in federal
waterfowl production areas. Like hunters nationwide, they must use
non-lead alternatives when hunting migratory waterfowl.

There are no regulations regarding fishing tackle in the

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