EPA Surrenders to NRA on Gun Control Issue

Environmental agency surrenders on regulating lead in bullets.

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In a swift and unexpected decision, the Environmental Protection Agency today rejected a petition from environmental groups to ban the use of lead in bullets and shotgun shells, claiming it doesn't have jurisdiction to weigh on the controversial Second Amendment issue. The decision came just hours after the Drudge Report posted stories from Washington Whispers and the Weekly Standard about how gun groups were fighting the lead bullet ban.

The EPA had planned to solicit public responses to the petition for two months, but this afternoon issued a statement rejecting a 100-page request from the Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy, and three other groups for a ban on lead bullets, shot, and fishing sinkers. The agency is still considering what to do about sinkers.

The decision was a huge victory for the National Rifle Association which just seven days ago asked that the EPA reject the petition, suggesting that it was a back door attempt to limit hunting and impose gun control. It also was a politically savvy move to take gun control off the table as the Democrats ready for a very difficult midterm election.

The NRA has spent two years tracking down rumors that the Obama administration wants to impose gun and ammo bans on the public, but hasn't found anything credible. While the lead ban was viewed initially as a substantial chance for the administration to move into challenging the Second Amendment, the swift rejection by the EPA settled concerns inside NRA headquarters today.

Here is what the EPA just sent Washington Whispers:

EPA Denies Petition Calling for Lead Ammunition Ban

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today denied a petition calling for a ban on the production and distribution of lead hunting ammunition. EPA sent a letter to the petitioners explaining the rejection – that letter can be found here: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/chemtest/pubs/sect21.html

Steve Owens, EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, issued the following statement on the agency's decision:

"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.

"This petition, which was submitted to EPA at the beginning of this month, is one of hundreds of petitions submitted to EPA by outside groups each year. This petition was filed under TSCA, which requires the agency to review and respond within 90 days.

"EPA is taking action on many fronts to address major sources of lead in our society, such as eliminating childhood exposures to lead; however, EPA was not and is not considering taking action on whether the lead content in hunting ammunition poses an undue threat to wildlife.

"As there are no similar jurisdictional issues relating to the agency's authority over fishing sinkers, EPA – as required by law – will continue formally reviewing a second part the petition related to lead fishing sinkers.

"Those wishing to comment specifically on the fishing tackle issue can do so by visiting http://www.regulations.gov. EPA will consider comments that are submitted by September 15."