The U.S. House of Representatives' Natural Resources Committee will vote today to forward a package of legislation includes a number of NSSF's legislative priorities to Congress.
According to a release from the NSSF, H.R. 4089, known as the Sportsmen's Heritage Act of 2012, was recently introduced by Congressmen Jeff Miller and Mike Ross, co-chairs of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, along with Bob Latta and Heath Shuler, vice co-chairs, and caucus members Congressmen Don Young, Dan Benishek and Dan Boren, as well as Congressman Jeff Flake serving as original co-sponsors.
The release says, "The bill combines a number of legislative priorities to expand and enhance recreational hunting, shooting and fishing opportunities while also protecting the firearms and ammunition industries from extremely detrimental regulations under the Environmental Protection Agency."
The legislation is considered "vitally important" by the NSSF to maintain the ranks of sportsmen and women, who the organization said contribute over $12 billion to wildlife conservation through the purchase of licenses and equipment, which carry an excise tax.
"Sportsmen were our country's first conservationists," said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. "Without continue, easy access to lands and waters where game and fish can be pursued, sportsmen will become less active and funding for conservation will decline, which be a loss for all citizens, not just hunters and anglers."
The four bills included in H.R. 4089 are:
- The Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting Protection Act, which amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to clarify Congress' original intent -- to exclude traditional lead ammunition and fishing tackle from EPA regulation. The Center for Biological Diversity has lobbied the EPA to ban lead ammo and tackle despite protests from industry and conservation groups, which claim there is no sound science to show that wildlife has been negatively impacted by lead ammo and tackle. Should the EPA exercise TSCA authority over ammo and tackle, it would mean dramatically higher prices due to higher raw materials and manufacturing costs, in turn resulting in the loss of hunters and anglers, as well as negative effects on manufacturers and their workers. The bill is also supported by the Fraternal Order of Police for the potential effect an EPA ban would have on law enforcement.
- The Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act, which requires federal land managers to support and allow easy access for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting. Land managers will also be required to "incorporate an evaluation of the impact on hunting, fishing and recreational shooting into land and resource planning." Agencies may also lease or designate land for outdoor activities, classifying hunting, fishing and recreational shooting as "necessary" to meet minimum requirements.
- The Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act of 2011, which amends the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 in directing the Secretary of the Interior to issue permits for the importation of polar bear parts that have been taken in Canadian sport hunts, if the bear was legally killed between Feb. 18, 1997, and May 15, 2008, "from a bear population from which a sport-hunted trophy could be imported before such date."
- The Recreational Shooting Protection Act, which requires national monument land to be open for recreational shooting, except as limited by the director of the BLM, who must publish public notices and report to Congress their reasons for taking such action.