The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday denied a petition from environmental groups to regulate the ammunition industry by requiring non-lead bullets for hunters. In March, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the EPA on behalf of 150 organizations in 38 states to forbid the use of lead in ammunition on the grounds that the heavy metal is toxic for wildlife.
The group made the same request in 2010, but the EPA declined to do so at that time, saying the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 does not grant authority to prohibit lead ammunition. Undeterred, the Center filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing that while the EPA may not be empowered to regulate ammo, it could designate lead a toxic component that is subject to restriction. The case is pending.
Environmentalists have charged that hunters scatter lead pellets over wilderness terrain, foraging animals eat the pellets, and some 10 million to 20 million creatures, mostly birds, die annually from lead poisoning. In 1999, the EPA concluded that lead shot in surface soil doesn’t break down and poses no risk to humans. Hunters say the high density of lead makes it the ideal ammunition ingredient for maximizing stopping power, while replacements like steel and copper don’t provide comparable impact and are more expensive.
In an effort to head off a showdown over ammunition, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) introduced in February the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act, which would prohibit the EPA from claiming authority over ammunition. The measure also would amend the Toxic Substances Control Act to clarify that materials used in hunting projectiles and fishing equipment fall outside of the agency's purview.—courtesy Washington Times and Outdoor Pressroom.com