EPA Gets Sued Over Lead Leniency
The EPA has stepped up its game over the past few years, regulating substances and incidences that it could only dream of doing in the past (not because it wasn’t legal, but due to lack of support). So the new lawsuit against them over their alleged leniency toward lead in hunting and fishing equipment is quite a blow to their large steps of progress. The lawsuit came as an early Thanksgiving present to the Federal agency, delivered by conservation and hunting groups along with organizations like the Center for Biological Diversity.
Why are these groups suing the EPA?
The case is over whether the EPA has adequately regulated lead, specifically related to hunting equipment. Lead is a well-known toxin that most of us have removed from our homes (lead paint anyone?) and the majority of our products. What we have not yet regulated are the products ejected into our natural environment including fishing tackle and hunting ammunition. The lead contaminants in these pieces of equipment have been tied to poisoning none other than the Eagle and a wariety of other wilflife, mainly birds and fish, that are most susceptible to lead poisoning and lead intake due to diets and habitat. Now if you aren’t a big animal lover, this still impacts your health. This hunting equipment it typically the reason you are eating the meat in the first place, so your food may have trace contaminants of lead. Pescitarians be ware.
Is the EPA responsible?
Now this is where the true debate lays for this lawsuit. Not in companies being responsible for their products, or hunter and fisher men and women using the equipment. Does the EPA have the power to regulate this, and if so, why haven’t they? The details will require quite a bit of legal sorting. As is true for many Federal agencies, responsibilities can overlap or be divided in odd ways (the FDA regulates food…but not dairy products, that is the USDA for example). It is unclear at this point whether the EPA has the authority to act on the issue. They attempted to regulate this issue in 1994 unsuccessfully. The Toxic Substances Control Act is the main piece of legislation under scrutiny to determine accountability in this case.
Did the groups go too far by suing, in place of working with, the EPA?
The debate is already emotionally charged since it is not a new issue. Since we are still in the beginning stages of the actual legal debate, it is difficult to say. It is commendable that the hunting and conservation groups took it upon themselves to help shed light and now regulation upon an unsustainable practice. Reading the statements from leaders from the hunting groups, it is encouraging to learn that they take personal responsibility, but would like the support and authority that the EPA can lend to help solidify more ethical and healthy practices. At present, it is unclear whether the EPA has the authority to regulate this, although the majority of signs point to yes. One major sign is the EPA’s own website outlining their efforts to reduce lead, lead poisoning, and lead in homes. So why not wildlife?
You can read more about this issue through the Center for Biological Diversity’s “Get the Lead Out” campaign here. If you would like to learn about lead-free hunting, check out Project Gutpile’s efforts started by and working for hunters. To read what the EPA has already helped regulate regarding Lead, check out their website.
So what do you think? Too early to tell? Cheers to effective regulation? Or down with over-regulation of industries?
Get the Lead Out