October 2010

Downrange: October 2010

DODGING A BULLET FROM THE EPA

Following a strong grassroots campaign led by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has denied a petition calling for a ban on the production and distribution of traditional ammunition.

Steve Owens, EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, issued the following statement recently: "EPA today denied a petition submitted by several outside groups for the agency to implement a ban on the production and distribution of lead hunting ammunition. EPA reached this decision because the agency does not have the legal authority to regulate this type of product under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)—nor is the agency seeking such authority." The brouhaha began when the EPA under Lisa Jackson, who was responsible for banning bear hunting in New Jersey, considered a petition by the anti-hunting Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to ban all traditional ammunition under the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976, a law in which Congress expressly exempted ammunition.

Had the EPA approved the petition, the result would have been a ban on all ammunition containing lead-core components, including hunting and target-shooting rounds.

NSSF President Steve Sanetti said that soon after NSSF posted notice that a public comment section on the CBD petition had been opened on the EPA site, hundreds of blogs and websites linked to it. More than 5,000 people shared it with friends on Facebook, and the message also spread across Twitter, forums and other sites.

As a result, hunters and shooters across the country made their voices heard, submitting comments to the EPA and contacting their lawmakers.My take: Had the EPA regulation gone through, gun ownership would have effectively disappeared, because ammo for millions of guns would have disappeared. The EPA clearly didn’t have the jurisdiction the CBD petition sought, yet the agency opened public comment on the petition—the first step in considering the petition as regulation.

Only a fool believes the EPA’s initial consideration, then quick denial of the petition, was because the agency recognizes its statutory limits. It was actually self-preservation, I believe. EPA had to accept or reject this petition by November 1, 2010, the day before the midterm elections. Had EPA continued its consideration of the petition, it would have made political opposition to the administration and its Congressional supporters incandescent. If the Democrats were to lose both houses of Congress, the EPA’s funding might be curtailed.

Here’s one better. How about defunding the EPA?