At the end of August, a coalition of environmental groups petitioned the EPA to encourage a ban on the production and use of lead-based fishing tackle and ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
The coalition described the harmful impact of both tackle and ammo on the environment and its wild inhabitants. Scavenging animals often feed on dead carcasses left behind by hunters; others mistakenly consume shot pellets or tackle lying on the ground. Impacted animals may die of lead poisoning while some become disabled and suffer for longer periods.
Only days after the petition was filed, the EPA denied the possibility of the ban in regards to ammunition. According to the agency, the Toxic Substances Control Act mentions ammunition as an exemption to its power of regulation. Also, the EPA stated that it is not wishing to seek the authority to regulate ammunition.
The EPA announced Nov. 4 that it is also denying the ban on lead-based fishing tackle. As stated in the announcement, the environmental group coalition did not demonstrate that the ban on production and use of the lead-based product would reduce or protect against the risk posed to humans or the environment. Also, already-existing limitations on the use of lead-based fishing tackle on certain federal and state lands along with outreach projects discouraged the EPA from supporting the ban.
In mid-September, prior to the EPA's decision, 78 members of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC) sent a letter to Lisa Jackson, the EPA administrator, urging the agency to dismiss the petition. A separate letter was sent by the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation, American Wildlife Conservation Partners, and others. The primary reason cited by these letters to object to the ban were the economic benefits provided to popular hunting and fishing areas.
Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) is a member of the CSC and former Chairwoman of the group. On Sept. 28, following the previously mentioned letters, Sen. Lincoln introduced S.B. 3850. The bill aimed to protect the production and use of lead-based ammunition and fishing tackle from regulation by the EPA.
How do you feel?
- With lead-free ammunition and fishing tackle already on the market, would a ban or regulation by the EPA be necessary?
- Are the existing federal and state regulations along with education regarding the dangers of lead capable of mitigating the potential dangers?
- To what extent does the sale of ammunition and fishing tackle impact the economies of popular hunting and fishing areas?
- Would the sale of lead-free products not make up for this economic loss?