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In late November, 2012, The Trumpeter Swan Society (TTSS) joined more than 200 citizen groups in objecting to a provision in the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (Senate Bill 3525) that would create an exemption under federal toxics law to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from evaluating or regulating lead poisoning of wildlife and humans from hunting or fishing activities.
A wide array of public-interest organizations called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to allow debate on the lead-poisoning exemption. Such debate has never occurred in Congress despite the serious environmental and public-health problems caused by spent lead ammunition and lost lead fishing weights and the availability of nontoxic alternatives to lead. The organizations support an amendment by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to block the exemption and study the human-health and environmental effects of lead poisoning from lead in ammunition and fishing sinkers.
“It’s outrageous that the Senate can’t find 10 minutes to allow any debate before voting to prevent our federal environmental agency from regulating, or even evaluating, a deadly toxic substance that we know is killing bald eagles and other wildlife — a toxin that causes neurological damage to humans and hinders mental development in children,” said William Snape, senior counsel with the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are good reasons we got toxic lead out of gasoline and home paints. The irony of this bill, preventing any regulation of lead used in hunting ammunition or fishing weights, is that it will harm hunters and anglers.”
The Sportsmen’s Act, which could be voted on as early as today, would create an exemption under the Toxic Substances Control Act to block the EPA from ever regulating toxic lead used in hunting ammunition and fishing sinkers or even evaluating the impacts of lead from these sources. The bill also contains an exemption that would allow imports of threatened polar bear parts from Canada despite the Endangered Species Act’s prohibition against such trade.
“Why would the Senate bow to the National Rifle Association’s anti-science views on lead poisoning and pass a special-interest legal exemption to promote further lead poisoning?” said Snape. “The amendment offered by Senator Boxer would actually establish a moratorium on any regulation of lead in ammunition or fishing sinkers until federal health and environment agencies prepare an objective study that all Americans could trust.”
Toxic lead entering the food chain from spent hunting ammunition and lost or discarded fishing sinkers poisons and kills bald eagles, endangered condors, loons, swans and more than 130 other species of wildlife. Hunters risk lead poisoning from ingesting lead fragments and residues in game shot with lead ammunition. Recent studies and scientific reports show elevated blood lead levels in hunters eating lead-infected meat, as well as dangerous lead contamination of venison donations to low-income food banks.
The Boxer amendment is reprinted below in its entirety.
Boxer Amendment to the Sportsmen’s Act:
SA 2902. Mrs. BOXER submitted an amendment intended to be proposed to amendment SA 2875 proposed by Mr. REID (for Mr. TESTER) to the bill S. 3525, to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:
Strike section 121 and insert the following:
SEC. 121. NO REGULATION OF AMMUNITION OR FISHING TACKLE PENDING STUDY OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS.
(a) No Regulation of Ammunition or Fishing Tackle.–The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall not issue any proposed or final rule or guidance to regulate any chemical substance or mixture in ammunition or fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act (15 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.) during the period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act and ending on the date of the publication of the study required by subsection (b).
(b) Study of Potential Human Health and Environmental Effects.—
(1) IN GENERAL.–Not later than December 31, 2014, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Secretary of the Interior shall jointly prepare and publish a study that describes the potential threats to human health (including to pregnant women, children, and other vulnerable populations) and to the environment from the use of—
(A) lead and toxic substances in ammunition and fishing tackle; and
(B) commercially available and less toxic alternatives to lead and toxic substances in ammunition and fishing tackle.
(2) USE.–The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall use, as appropriate, the findings of the report required by paragraph (1) when considering any potential future decision related to a chemical substance or mixture when the substance or mixture is used in ammunition or fishing tackle.
This text is from a public press release issued by the Center for Biological Diversity, a group coordinating the effort on this vital issue. The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. For quick and immediate action, you can sign a petition online at
Every signature counts, please pass this on!