Washington — Just weeks after it denied a petition from a number
of environmental groups to ban the use of lead ammunition, the
Environmental Protection Agency recently also shot down the second
aspect of the petition that called for a ban of lead fishing
According to an EPA press release: “In a letter to the petitioners,
EPA indicated that the petitioners have not demonstrated that the
requested rule is necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk
of injury to health or the environment, as required by the Toxic
Substances Control Act.
“The letter further indicates that the increasing number of
limitations on the use of lead fishing gear on some federal and
state lands, as well as various education and outreach activities,
call into question whether a national ban on lead in fishing gear
would be the least burdensome, adequately protective approach to
address the concern, as called for under the TSCA,” the press
As expected, the coalition of groups that filed the petition
reacted negatively to being jolted for the second time in as many
months by the federal agency.
“The EPA seems to have lost its will to regulate, even in the face
of overwhelming scientific information about the harm to wildlife
and threats to human health,” said Michael Fry, director of
conservation advocacy for the American Bird Conservancy, one of the
petitioners, in a statement.
The ABC, along with the Center for Biological Diversity and other
groups filed the petition in August, asking the EPA to ban lead in
bullets and shot for hunting, as well as lead in fishing
According to the groups, the petition referenced nearly 500
peer-reviewed scientific papers “illustrating the widespread
dangers of lead poisoning from these sources.”
The groups claimed an estimated 10 million to 20 million birds and
other animals die each year from lead poisoning in the United
States – cranes, loons, ducks, and other waterfowl among
Other conservation groups claimed that banning lead ammo and
tackle, and replacing it with more expensive options, might price
out those who support fish and wildlife via license fees each
The American Sportfishing Association was one group that opposed
the petition. According to the ASA, other, greater threats
“ASA acknowledges that lead toxicosis can kill water birds, and
lead fishing sinkers may contribute to this mortality. ASA
recommends that before further laws are enacted to restrict lead
sinkers for fishing on a state or national basis, sufficient data
must exist to demonstrate that discarded lead sinkers are an actual
threat to the sustainability of loons or other water bird
populations,” according to the association’s web site.
Loon populations are stable or increasing in the lower 48 states
and Canada, the ASA says.
“In general, loon populations, as well as other waterfowl species,
are subject to much more substantial threats such as habitat loss
through shoreline development,” the ASA states.
The ABC’s Fry said the EPA failed to take responsibility for
legitimate concerns over lead by denying the petition.
“The EPA has the clear authority under the Toxic Substances Control
Act to regulate lead in any way it sees fit and it is not up to the
petitioners to formulate the ‘least burdensome’ regulation,” he
said in a press statement. “The scientific data in the petition
demonstrated the need for regulation to prevent poisoning of
wildlife, and it is up to the EPA to formulate the proper
The petition was filed by the groups on Aug. 3. On Aug. 27, the EPA
denied the portion of the petition relating to lead in ammunition
because the agency doesn’t have the legal authority to regulate
that type of product under the TSCA, according to the EPA.
While denying the petition, the letter to the American Bird
Conservancy and others, from Stephen Owens, assistant administrator
for the EPA, said actions already had been undertaken to reduce the
amount of lead tackle and ammo in use.
“There are an increasing number of limitations on the use of lead
in fishing gear on some federal lands, as well as federal outreach
efforts,” Owens wrote. “A number of states have established
regulations that ban or restrict the use of lead sinkers and have
created state education and fishing tackle exchange programs over
the last decade.”