Press Release:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday denied yet another frivolous petition by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) — an established anti-hunting group — calling for a ban on the traditional ammunition (containing lead-core components) for hunting and shooting . . . .

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, applauds the EPA’s latest decision and called upon Congress to immediately pass the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act (S.838/H.R.1558).

In the House of Representatives, the bill is also included in the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 (H.R. 4089), an important piece of legislation that combines three other legislative priorities for sportsmen. The bill (S.838/H.R.1558) amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to clarify that the Congress has excluded traditional ammunition from regulation by the EPA.

The legislation is supported by more than 35 national conservation and sportsmen’s groups. The bill is even supported by the Fraternal Order of Police because a ban on traditional ammunition would apply to law enforcement and the U.S. military.

NSSF opposed the petition, which was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and other like-minded groups. This was the second attempt by the CBD to ban traditional ammunition since it first petitioned the EPA in August of 2010. In rejecting the CBD’s latest petition the EPA agreed with NSSF, telling the CBD that it did not have jurisdiction under TSCA to regulate ammunition.

The CBD’s petition purported to narrow the scope of the ban sought, but the EPA concluded that this change was a “distinction without a substantive difference.” The EPA went on to say the new petition “contains no new information.”

The CBD’s serial petitions erroneously claim that the use of traditional ammunition by hunters poses a danger to human health and wildlife, in particular raptor populations such as bald eagles. The truth is that wildlife populations, including raptor and bald eagle populations, are soaring. The myth of a human health risk has been thoroughly debunked by a 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that found the health of hunters consuming game harvested with traditional ammunition was not at risk.

The excise taxes raised from hunters’ purchases of the very ammunition the CBD tries to demonize is a primary source of wildlife conservation in the United States. Restricting or banning traditional ammunition absent sound science will hurt wildlife conservation. “Hunters have done more for wildlife than the CBD ever will,” said NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane.

“These relentless and unfounded attacks against traditional ammunition by agenda-driven groups like the CBD are exactly why Congress must take immediate action and pass the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012.”

Keane is referencing the federal excise tax that manufacturers pay on the sale of the ammunition (11 percent), which is dedicated to the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

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46 Responses to EPA Doesn’t Ban Lead Ammunition. Again. Still.

  1. The CBD’s serial petitions erroneously claim that the use of traditional ammunition by hunters poses a danger to human health and wildlife

    I was going to point out that traditional hunting ammo is supposed to pose a danger to wildlife, but that would be too easy.

    • And it can pose a danger to human health as well, depending on use, but as you said, too easy.

      By the way, anyone care to explain the illustration?

      • When I saw that picture, I wondered how many of the Best and Brightest would be able to place it. I cannot remember the brand, but I remember the ads . . . Back in the Good Old Days when people smoked everywhere and cigarettes were advertised on TV.

  2. Personally I have mixed reviews about this subject. Having been diagnosised with lead poisoning last week only going 4 times in one month to an indoor range(yeah I was shooting .22 so I was there a little over an hour). I am asymptomatic so I shouldn’t have to undergo celation therapy. Of course I would like to see this hobby be safer. I also would not like paying double or more for ammo.

    The lead in the primers are also a concern so with FMJ bullets these type of lead free bullets wouldn’t help that much.

    If they really want to save lives and such just promote use of outdoor ranges and promote people using lead masks that only cost <$10.

    If there is anyone else that frequents indoor ranges, I would recommend also getting your blood lead levels tested since you are relying on how good the range's filteration system is. I guess medical school is paying off since learning about lead poisoning on heme synthesis is what motivated me to get tested to just see.

    • Good idea, cellude. I never thought about lead when I was shooting exclusively at an outdoor range, but it makes sense to check now that I’m shooting indoors so often. Thanks for the heads up.

    • Also having been to med school, you might want to consider other environmental sources of lead besides 4 hours of exposure to an indoor range.

      • Darren,

        I also had a CBC run at the same time which did not show low RBC values. The BLL was 23 mcg/dL. Would chronic exposure cause depressed RBC ?

        The only change in my history was my recent visits to that very very poor conditioned indoor range.

        Well I will find out for sure in 3 weeks when I get another BLL reading and peripheral smear after not returning to that range again.

        I wonder if there is any value in getting a zinc protoporphyrin test to see if exposure has been chronic?

        • It’s worth exploring whether you have been exposed to lead recently or at some point in the past. Your BLL seems pretty high, but if it’s not chronic (e.g., your exposure is limited to the four episodes you mentioned) it should go down pretty quickly.

          Even if it is related to firearms range exposure, it’s better for that to be the working hypothesis than it would be for you to be exposed in some other way to lead on a constant basis. If your BLL stays high after 25 days of no exposure to the firearms range, you have another, currently-unknown source of lead to consider.

          If it drops and it seems to be a range-related issue, it’s worth telling the people at the range that they have a problem, and then finding a new range.

  3. About the picture:

    That’s an old Lucky Strikes (cigarettes) picture with the cartridge and Remington box photo-chopped in, right?

  4. The CBD has worked to preserve old growth forest in places other than hunting preserves, and has submitted reports demonstrating how many birds die from ingesting lead. There are safe alternatives available, and responsible hunters should be willing to spend the extra money.

    I agree that legislation needs to be based on science, but when you say things like “Hunters have done more for wildlife than the CBD ever will”, it makes all the other arguments sound incorrect and absurd as well.

    Either you believe in science or you don’t, but let’s not pretend that science is on our side when the discussion is really about rights.

    • I believe in science. I don’t believe in voodoo science and I certainly don’t believe in any agenda-driven group’s bushwah.

      I read the so-called “science” presented by the CBD and calling it bushwah is insulting to bushwah.

    • The discussion you are having is about excise taxes, direct contributions to wildlife and range management and paying hunting leases to keep hunting lands from being used for other purposes.

      From a direct economic standard, hunters and shooters do far more for wildlife than a group like CBD ever will, period. There are tens of millions of hunters and shooters who contribute hundreds of millions of dollars per year in direct upkeep of wildlife areas. Simply based on that statistic alone, it is silly to believe that the 65-strong staff of CBD will ever do more for wildlife than millions of hunters do every year.

      The only thing incorrect and absurd in this thread is the idea than an environmental law firm will ever contribute more to the maintenance of wildlife areas than the people who actually use them and pay for the privilege.

      • Wait, so are you trying to convince us that the people out actually doing get more done than the people sipping Starbucks Double Half-Cafs sitting around in air-conditioned offices talking about what they feel other people should?

      • That is an interesting argument. Are there any studies to support it? Any science? Because the receipts from hunters do not tell the whole story.

        Let’s say that a million people got together and paid $25 admission to a national park. And while they were in the national park, they sprinkled two ounces each of poison on the ground.

        The National Park service gets $25 million to operate a park that might not exist otherwise, so you might argue that wildlife is better off than they would be otherwise.

        O the other hand, the CBD contends that tha 2 million ounces of poison (each year) is building up in the environment, and causing more than $25 million worth of damage.

        Unless you have some actual science to back up your argument, then you are no better than the lawyers at CBD.

        The only scientific argument made in the article was that eagle populations are thriving in spite of lead contamination. This argument does not stand up very well. Given their choice, eagles eat fish, and it is the rare hunter who shoots fish, even by accident.

        There is a wide variety of wildlife that is much more closely involved in the part of the food chain that absorbs lead. While the wild turkey population is booming in Staten Island, for example, it is declining in many hunting areas. I don’t just mean the hunting season decline, either. I mean a long term decline that is attributed to infections that are worsened by lead.

        And you know it.

        Even in places like NJ, which re-introduced turkeys and population management for hunting, the harvest is down each year since 2008. And this is just the most obvious species. There are dozens of species that do not get the same population management, and absorb every bit as much lead from their environment.

        If you haven’t tried out lead free ammo, consider it. If you are willing to pay $17 for a hunting license, but not willing to pay $25 for a box of lead-free, then how bad is your budget?

        My personal opinion is that states and local governments should regulate raise the price of licenses, and give a discount for people who are lead-free. But that is just my personal opinion.

        • Of course there are studies. Haven’t you been reading the news?

          At least one commenter on this thread said he was voluntarily using non-lead rounds. He does that because he’s an environmentally conscious man. He agrees with the EPA apparently, that lead is bad for the environment.

          What amazes me is that many of you are old enough to remember when we fased out leaded gasoline, and you were completely in agreement with that, but now you twist and argue in every which way to avoid the logical conclusion that lead bullets are also a problem.

        • Mikeb,

          Part of the reason is that there’s a difference between tetraethyl lead that is easily absorbed through contact and inhalation, and lead projectiles that are not. Lead is only toxic when ingested, and even at that most of it will not be absorbed in the GI tract. It’s not a contact poison and inert lead doesn’t give off magic fumes. Life sucks for birds whose gizzards tend to collect that kind of thing, but them’s the breaks for birds.

          You don’t have to bend a twist all that much when you can rationally assess risk based on bioavailability, rather than blanket-dismissing something as bad because it’s something associated with something else you think is bad.

        • One, you are assuming every hunter is using lead and bullets, that is false. What “poison” are bow hunters spreading?

          Two, you are assuming all shots on game animals are through and throughs, that is also false. In over 20 years of hunting I have had at most half a dozen rounds that I have not recovered.

          Three, you are implying that all hunting is done with shotguns using bird or buck shot, that is false.

        • And criminals attempting to kill armed civilians or police. Don’t forget them.

        • I have a number of friends who swear by HeviShot, Dead Coyote and Black Cloud. They’re all doctors, so the marginal cost increase of alternative ammo is not significant, but decisions are made on the margins. The all-copper projectiles in hunting rifles and shotgun slugs are pretty spectacular performers as well, at least from the appearance of recovered specimens.

          I have just come to expect the rest of the info coming over the transom to indicate some even worse and unforseen issue with the New Miracle Stuff that is touted as a clearly better choice that all Right-Thinking People would make if only they weren’t such cave trolls. I think my favorite example is that the alternative tungsten alloys used by European MBT long-rod penetrators are far more toxic than the US’s nasty, dirty DU projectiles.

          http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/info:doi/10.1289/ehp.7791

          Basically, spall from a tungsten-alloy penetrator seems to cause exquisitely nasty tumors called rhabdomyosarcomas. Oops.

          Can’t tell you the number of morons I’ve had to explain what the “depleted” part of DU means, about how it’s toxic because uranium is a heavy metal, not because it’s radioactive (it’s less radioactive than the ore it’s mined from), about how all the deformed baby pictures from Iraq are very tragic but also the kind of thing you expect to see in populations exposed to mutagenic agents like mustard gas, etc. and chronically underfed.

          I think we’re probably okay with copper compounds, but the Next Big Thing isn’t always without tradeoffs on the other side.

  5. Take it for what it’s worth, as a long time hunter and shooter I have resolved to use lead free ammo whenever possible. There are good lead free alternatives for really any application nowadays. The real issue is cost, lead is cheap- and I don’t mean that in a judgemental way to those who choose otherwise. Lead is poison plain and simple and once the damage is done, cannot be undone. I’ll confess that I’m not as educated as I’d like re the whole issue but I don’t believe that the idea that raptor populations are soaring doesn’t mean that there isn’t damage being done via lead that could be averted.

    Without going all tree huggy lib on everyone (too late?),
    I really believe that we are mucking up the world we live in to degree that we may be unable to undo. To think that there are limits on the amount of sushi( caught in the deepest, most remote parts of the ocean/ world),- or even fresh caught fish from a nearby lake -that my pregnant wife can consume without fear of adversely affecting her pregnancy is insane to me.

    I know this has nothing to do w/ lead ammo but the point is I think every little bit helps, and lead free ammo is a step in the right direction. not advocating a ban, but personal choice by those who care about, enjoy and use our wild places the most- our hunters and shooters.

      • I read the so-called “science” presented by the CBD and calling it bushwah is insulting to bushwah

        I havent read it and would like to, have a link?

        • Thanks,
          I’ve read parts (it’s 107 pages long). Seems well written, well referenced to me. What part did you consider vodoo?

          The first page sums it up well- lead is poisonous to living organisms, period. A fact known to humans for thousands of years. And as Low Budget Dave pointed out we casually sprinkle it around in many of the outdoor places we cherish by the millions of pounds every year.

          I’m somewhayt mystified by all of the pushback. Cost? Convenience? Ballistics?

          My fear is that it’s based in the idea that “this is just another trick by the gun grabbers to take away our guns and hunting rights one little bit at a time-give em an inch they’ll take a mile”.
          I call it a fear because if that is the rationale despite all of the facts to the contrary then we have become what they so often acuse us of being- fearful, paranoid and unreasonable.

          My hope is that as ethical sportsmen (who are -hopefully-justifiably considered the truest stewards of the environment), we would do the right thing without needing to be “told” to do so.

          I also believe that money talks and if there were enough demand for lead free alternatives manufacturers would respond, reducing costs, increasing quality (and there are already many quality alternatives)

          Note: This is not a personal attack (Ralph), I am honestly curious about why people are against lead-free

        • “And as Low Budget Dave made up we casually sprinkle it around in many of the outdoor places we cherish by the millions of pounds every year.”

          fixed it for you

  6. Try this…
    Gee…we have been using lead for a long time and this never came up before. I have not had lead problems, but I shoot outdoors.
    I would say that the bullets ou of rifles and pistols usually imbed themselves into trees, the ground, etcetera. I doubt if birds are going to ingest them into their gizzards.
    The shotgun pellets I might be able to see a bird ingesting, but waterfowl hunting has been limited to non-lead shot.
    I would doubt if endangered raptors are going to hang out too much at the Trap and Skeet Club.
    It seems we are seeing more non-lead shot products for Upland Hunting as well.
    Problem with non-lead bullets, is that copper is being recommended by the Enviro-Nazis which is rather expensive. I do not know what material the Antis are going to call Cop Killer Bullets either.

  7. I’d rather fight than switch. Wow, that’s going back a ways. Nice photo/photoshop from the cultural archives.

  8. Lead is bad news for the environment. When you call this “another frivolous petition” you set the tone for all the echo-chamber type comments that follow. The folks who bring these petitions are operating in good faith. What mp said at 19.09 was refreshingly nice.

    • “The folks who bring these petitions are operating in good faith.”

      Yes they are, however they are also operating with out knowing what they are actually talking about or the whole store/all of the facts. This is the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic while it is sinking. Around the world we use our oceans as landfills dumping millions of tons of trash into them, we make everything possible out of synthetic, non-biodegradable materials and then improperly discard them, we dump chemicals and toxins down the drain and into lakes and rivers.

      Hunters know that (other than invasive species like feral hogs) that they must practice conservation to ensure that they can continue to hunt. The small amount of lead that may be left in the environment by hunters, which is more than offset by the rest of their conservation efforts, is a virtually insignificant issue compared to the rest of the pollution and toxins that we needlessly pump into the environment everyday.

      • Well said and i agree but why not use an alternative if it is truly safer and more healthy even if the difference is small?

        • I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use non-lead, I see no reason for it to be a law.

    • Awww, it doesn’t realize the impact difference between Tetraethyl lead and elemental lead, maybe it should be in an 8th grade earth science class. Small shot is a slight problem due to the crop stone thing but it is already mostly banned for use hunting and science knows regular bullets simply don’t pose as great a threat of poisoning as perceived. Worry about bunker fueled ships and leaded gasoline burning planes, because compared to what they do to the environment bullets are droplets in an ocean. What you are talking about is reaming the emergency room doc for not mending a paper cut on your finger while not allowing him to attempt to stop your femoral artery from gushing out.

  9. Setting aside all the bantering over the pros and cons of using lead in ammo, what has been overlooked by this decision is the fact that the EPA has no authority whatsoever to ban lead ammo or fishing sinkers. These items were specifically excluded from being under the EPAs jurisdiction in legislation passed that gave them power to regulate hazardous/toxic materials in the environment. That little tidbit came out during the last attempt to get the EPA to ban lead ammo.
    Ounce for ounce & penny for penny, lead ammo is still the best material for use in firearms that do not rely on high-velocity for their terminal effects. It is also the easiest & cheapest material to work with for those who make their own bullets (casting, blackpowder etc). It is also a naturally occurring element in nature.

  10. I was also mostly thinking about the original quote, and did not mean to insult anyone’s hunting skills. The idea that hunters, in general, do more for the environment than environmentalists is not likely to be possible.

    Hunting licenses and duck stamps are cheap, and do not cover the cost of hunting programs or even the salaries of game and forest wardens. The public lands many hunters use are supported by taxpayers. About 60% of wildlife refuges are open to hunting, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service runs several programs designed primarily to benefit hunters that are paid for by general tax revenues, not hunting fees.

    Don’t believe me? Look around in the budget for programs to assist “non-game” species. You will find them, but they are dwarfed by the costs of hunting. State and Federal agencies build roads through wild lands to facilitate hunter access, and burn or clear-cut forests to increase the food supply for deer.

    Hunters kill about 200 million animals each year on Federal land alone. If the government wanted a sneaky way to prevent hunting, all they would have to do is stop subsidizing it.

    The average hunter on Federal lands wounds one animal and loses it for every animal killed and recovered. Injury, blood loss, infection, and starvation are the well-known downside of poor hunters, but the lesser-known downside is lead poisoning. I know that some of you are very good hunters, and are very careful. But everyone else isn’t: Each year, dozens of horses, cows, dogs, cats, hikers, and other hunters are injured or killed. 1988 was the last banner year: 177 people were killed and 1,719 injured by hunters, many on their own property. Things have improved since then, but it is still a stretch to characterize every hunter as an environmentalist who hunts with a bow, carefully cleans up his trash, and recovers all his spent ammo.

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