Two key House Republicans contended in a Tuesday report that the Obama administration used a rushed, “disorderly” process to ban lead ammunition from hunting on federal land in the final weeks of former President Obama’s tenure.
At issue is a director’s order from Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe published on Jan. 19, 2017, the last full day of the Obama administration, banning lead ammunition and tackle from federal wildlife refuges and other areas where hunting is allowed.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) say that their investigation showed that Ashe and his staff skipped many of the usual steps in writing the policy, a process that started less than a month before it was released.
“Documents obtained by the committee show that the Order resulted from a disorderly, last-minute process undertaken by the departing administration in a unilateral attempt to impose a policy that lacked public input and did not cite to scientific support,” the committee report said.
The committee said that one man — adviser Noah Matson — largely ran the process, with little input from states, hunters’ groups and others usually involved in such policies, like communications and law enforcement officials within the FWS.
Further, the FWS skipped steps like publishing the proposed policy in the Federal Register and gathering public comment on it.
And in the end, the agency did not properly plan for implementation of the order, the committee said.
“FWS documents provided no explanation for such a hasty process other than to promulgate the policy before President Trump took office.”
Current Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reversed the ban on his first day in office in March 2017, saying it was unnecessary and an impediment to hunting.
Environmentalists had long been pushing to ban the use of lead ammunition and tackle, arguing that pieces left behind can poison other wildlife nearby.
Republicans and gun-rights advocates contend that such a ban would do little to help wildlife. Lead-free bullets are expensive, however, so the policy would likely make it harder for some gun owners to buy ammunition.
In their Tuesday memo, Gowdy and Farenthold said the lead ban is an example of why the Congressional Review Act needs to be changed to allow Congress to overturn regulations easily.