For the second time, a district court in Arizona has dismissed a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) that attacked the use of lead-based ammunition in a National Forest. CBD’s suit claimed that the Forest Service violated the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), a federal law involving disposal of solid waste, by not taking action to ban the use of lead-based ammunition on the Kaibab National Forest. SCI and the National Rifle Association jointly participated in the case as intervenors to defend the U.S. Forest Service.
If successful, CBD’s lawsuit would have set a dangerous precedent that the use of lead-based ammunition for hunting violates RCRA. Such a finding potentially would subject state, federal, and tribal governments who allow such ammunition use to serious liability under RCRA. CBD and other anti-hunting groups could have used that precedent to attack the use of lead-based ammunition in other locations across the country, possibly leading to bans on the use of this type of ammunition.
The Court dismissed CBD’s case based on its conclusion that any ruling it could give would qualify as “advisory.” The Court explained that courts are not supposed to give “advice” to federal agencies on how they should exercise their authority and discretion. CBD now has three options for continuing its case: (1) request reconsideration from the Court, (2) revise their lawsuit to try to address the Court’s ruling, or (3) appeal the decision to the Ninth Circuit. The third option is the most likely. Whatever happens, SCI and the NRA will be there to continue to defend against this attack on traditional hunting. In the meantime, we will enjoy this victory.