Tulsa World: EPA will not ban lead ammo
August 30, 2010
Posted by David Lungren David_Lungren@epw.senate.gov
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EPA will not ban lead ammo
by JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau
Saturday, August 28, 2010
WASHINGTON - Facing strong opposition from U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and others, a key federal agency denied a petition Friday seeking a ban on lead ammunition used by hunters.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, however, said it would continue to review another section of the petition on the use of lead in fishing tackle.
In denying the request on banning lead ammunition, the EPA said the Toxic Substances Control Act does not give the agency the authority needed to address that issue.
"EPA is taking action on many fronts to address major sources of lead in our society, such as eliminating childhood exposures to lead," EPA Assistant Administrator Steve Owens said in a statement. "However, EPA was not and is not considering taking action on whether the lead content in hunting ammunition poses an undue threat to wildlife."
Just hours before that announcement, Inhofe had vowed to take the lead against any action by the EPA on that front.
"They are just talking about taking away Americans' freedom," the Oklahoma Republican said. "We are not going to let them get by with this foolishness."
A group that described itself as a coalition of conservation, hunting and veterinary groups had filed a petition several weeks ago with the EPA seeking action.
Lead is a toxic and unnecessary killer of wildlife, including bald eagles, trumpeter swans and endangered California condors, according to the coalition. Up to 20 million birds and other animals, it stated, die each year from ingesting some of the 3,000 tons of lead shot into the environment every year by hunters, the 80,000 tons released at shooting ranges or 4,000 tons lost in ponds and streams as lures and sinkers. Lead ammunition also poses health risks to humans who consume meat that may be impacted by small particles of shot that spread away from the bullet wound, the coalition stated.
It added that numerous alternatives to lead shot already are available to hunters.
"The science on this issue is massive in breadth and unimpeachable in its integrity," said George Fenwick, president of American Bird Conservancy.
Inhofe disputed such claims.
"I don't think the science is there," he said.
Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, had argued that the EPA lacks jurisdiction over such issues. He said the issue belongs to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The National Rifle Association also came out against action by the EPA.
"Simply put, the (Toxic Substances Control) Act does not grant EPA the authority to regulate ammunition of any composition," Chris Cox, executive director of NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, stated in a letter to the EPA.
Michael Fry, the director of conservation advocacy at the American Bird Conservancy, said the coalition believes the law gives the EPA the authority to require nontoxic components.
A national ban on using lead shot to hunt waterfowl has been in place for years, and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation states that duck numbers have increased steadily under the restriction.
Micah Holmes, the state agency's information supervisor, said it also instituted a rule requiring steel shot on a specific wildlife management area.
In addition to the American Bird Conservancy, the petition to the EPA was submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, Association of Avian Veterinarians, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Project Gutpile, a hunters' group.