EPA rejects latest bid to ban lead in ammunition

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

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
tackle.

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 lead in hunting ammunition poses an undue
wildlife threat,” 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.”

Comment regarding the lead fishing tackle aspect of the petition
may be submitted until Sept. 15 at
http://www.regulations.gov.

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.”

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.

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, 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.

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