Senators Battle Environmentalists Seeking to Ban Lead in Ammunition, Fishing Tackle

As environmentalists battle to ban the use of lead in ammunition and fishing tackle out of concern for wildlife and their habitats, several U.S. lawmakers have rushed to defend the tools of hunters and fishermen with a new bill to shield such items from regulation.

Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont, and John Thune, R-S.D., co-chairmen of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, unveiled this week legislation to clarify the longstanding exemption of ammunition and its components under the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, which allows the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate “chemical substances” under certain circumstances.

Citing tax revenue as justification, the lawmakers say a ban would lead to higher excise taxes on more expensive bullets that would price out many hunters and fisherman.

“Hunting, shooting and fishing are more than just pastimes in Montana – they’re part of our outdoor heritage,” Tester said. “They’re Montana values that we pass on to our kids and grandkids. And I’ll fight for those values whenever Washington D.C.’s rules get in the way of commons sense.”

“Outdoor activities, including hunting and fishing, not only provide recreational opportunities, but also greatly contribute to South Dakota’s economy,” Thune said. “The EPA’s overreaching regulations in other areas are already negatively affecting jobs and businesses across the country, and I am committed to ensuring that ammunition and tackle do not become subject to arbitrary regulation.”

A coalition of conservation groups is suing the Environmental Protection Agency to force a ban. They call the lawmakers’ legislation “misguided” at best.

“I think it’s sad,” said Adam Keats, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity who is the lead attorney on the EPA lawsuit. “It’s a pathetic move by elected officials who are ignoring facts, science and putting the health of the people in this country in harm’s way just to appeal to a very well-heeled, wealthy lobby: the gun lobby.”

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