Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency rejected a petition submitted earlier this month aiming to ban the use of lead in lead bullets, shot and fishing sinkers, due to the impact lead has on wildlife.
The EPA's original plan was to poll the public for its reaction to the petition—submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy and three other groups—over a period of two months. But Friday, the EPA denied the petition, saying it falls outside its jurisdiction under the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.
Under this act, the EPA may regulate "chemical substances" under certain circumstances, but Congress explicitly excluded lead shot and bullets from regulation.
"EPA is taking action on many fronts to address major sources of lead in our society, such as eliminating childhood exposures to lead," the agency said in a written statement. "However, EPA was not and is not considering taking action on whether the lead content in hunting ammunition poses an undue threat to wildlife." The EPA is still considering what to do about fishing sinkers.
Both The Wildlife Society and the American Fisheries Society have recognized the toxicity of lead that leads to wildlife deaths and sub-lethal poisoning. Non-toxic shot has been required in all waterfowl hunting under federal and state rules since 1991.