Environmental groups lost their appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in trying to get EPA to address spent lead shot.

Environmental Groups Lose Spent Shot Appeal

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled unanimously Dec. 23 that EPA cannot regulate spent lead bullets and shot.

A case involving 101 environmental groups went against them Dec. 23 when a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled unanimously that EPA cannot regulate spent lead bullets and shot. The appeal in Trumpeter Swan Society, et al. v. EPA, et al., involved section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the groups filed a petition asking EPA to regulate spent lead bullets and shot via a rulemaking to address "chemical substances" that "present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment."

EPA responded that the petition largely duplicated an earlier one by two of the environmental groups that sought to have lead shot and bullets and fishing sinkers regulated. And, even if it were to consider the new petition, section 3(2)(B)(v) of the act exempts cartridges and shells from the definition of "chemical substance," the agency maintained.

The appeals court panel unanimously agreed. "Given that bullets and shot can become 'spent' only if they are first contained in a cartridge or shell and then fired from a weapon, petitioners have identified no way in which EPA could regulate spent bullets and shot without also regulating cartridges and shells—precisely what section 3(2)(B)(v) prohibits," Judge David S. Tatel wrote in the unanimous decision.

The environmental groups contended spent lead ammunition poses an "ongoing threat of lead poisoning."

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