For Immediate Release
Bill Snape, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 536-9351
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 669-7357
200 Groups Object to Lead-poisoning Provision in Sportsmen's Bill
Call on Senate to Allow Vote on Boxer Amendment
WASHINGTON - More than 200 citizen groups are 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.
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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.