Outdoors

Enviros, EPA, NRA face off in court over lead ammo


California condors, such as this one over Vermilion Cliffs near Page, Ariz., are responding to captive breeding and release programs fostered by the Endangered Species Act. Two chicks hatched and took flight this year.
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
California condors, such as this one over Vermilion Cliffs near Page, Ariz., are responding to captive breeding and release programs fostered by the Endangered Species Act. Two chicks hatched and took flight this year. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

SHOOTING — This court case — stemming in part from secondary deaths to creatures such as  California condors that die after ingesting lead bullet fragments from wounded game — is worth watching.

Local note: The Loon Lake Loon Association is among the plaintiffs. The association was instrumental in getting fishing restrictions on lead weights and lures in more than a dozen northern Washington lakes where loons nest.

What: A federal court will hear arguments this week in a lawsuit filed by conservation groups against the Environmental Protection Agency for its refusal to address toxic lead in hunting ammunition that poisons and kills eagles, endangered condors and other wildlife as well as threatening human health. The court hearing will focus on motions to dismiss the lawsuit by the EPA, National Rifle Association and other gun groups; and whether the EPA has the authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to regulate toxic lead in ammunition.

When: Thursday, May 23, 2 p.m.

Where: U.S. District Court, 333 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., in Courtroom 24A before Judge Emmet G. Sullivan

Background: In 2012, 100 organizations in 35 states formally petitioned the EPA to use the Toxic Substances Control Act to regulate the toxic components of hunting ammunition, including the lead bullets and shot projectiles that cause lead poisoning of wildlife.

When the EPA refused to evaluate the petition, the Trumpeter Swan Society, Cascades Raptor Center, Center for Biological Diversity, Loon Lake Loon Association, Preserve Our Wildlife, Tennessee Ornithological Society and Western Nebraska Resources Council filed a lawsuit in 2012.

The National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Safari Club International and Association of Battery Recyclers intervened in the case, claiming the EPA does not have authority to regulate lead ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

After approving the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976, the U.S. House of Representatives said in a report about the history and intent of the Act that it “does not exclude from regulation under the bill chemical components of ammunition which could be hazardous because of their chemical properties.” The EPA has already declared that lead is a toxic substance and taken steps to remove it from other products and uses.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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