MEMPHIS, Tennessee — You’re burnt out aren’t you? Already. Ninety-six days into the Trump presidency, and the 24-hour news cycle has blurred into the background of everyday life. The routine goes on. Things aren’t that different than they were under the Obama administration … or are they?
They are. Whether you’re on the right side of the fence, the left side of the fence or you don’t believe in fences at all, Fishing Tackle Retailer is here to keep you informed on what we’ll call a monthly news cycle—a condensed recap of the legislation and policy changes affecting the sportfishing and marine industries.
We’re not interested in red seats or blue seats — or green seats or yellow seats. We’re interested in providing both sides the issues that you might not feel today, but you’ll probably feel in the future. Now that the dust of President Trump’s “first 100 days” in office is beginning to stir, here’s entry one of Washington Watch. *Sources cited.
Issue 1: Zinke Repeals Lead Ban
On March 2, Newly-minted Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke withdrew a decree that would have phased out lead bullets and fishing tackle on more than 300 federal wildlife refuges. That order (No. 219), was signed by then-USFWS Director Dan Ashe on the final day of the Obama administration.
For: The National Shooting Sports Foundation and National Rifle Association both say no research shows that lead poisoning from bullet fragments is widespread enough to point to the threatening of an entire species. The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies President Nick Wiley called Rule 219 a “disservice to hunters and anglers, the firearms and angling industries.”
Against: Environmental experts say lead exposure is harming animals, citing a University of Minnesota Raptor Center study concluding that 90 percent of bald eagles received each year have elevated lead residues in their body. This, the UofM says, resulted in the deaths of over 500 eagles due to lead poisoning in the past 24 years. Eagles, of course, primarily eat fish. Other studies also found lead residue in turkey vultures, condors and deer (who haven’t learned to fish yet).
Dig Deeper: The American Sportfishing Association applauded Zinke’s appointment, and representatives from the ASA recently met with Department of the Interior officials in Washington to discuss the outdoor recreation industry.
Issue 2: Executive Order Repeals Protection for National Monuments
On April 26, President Trump issued an executive order to allow national monument designations to be rescinded or reduced in size. The administration says the goal is to allow more federal land for drilling, mining and other development. The National Park Service currently oversees more than 120 national monuments in the U.S., including landmarks such as Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado, and Craters of the Moon in Idaho. A report by Reuters lists the embattled Bears Ears National Monument created by the Obama administration and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument created by the Clinton administration as potential flash points.
For: Utah Senator Orrin Hatch called the President, “committed to rolling back the egregious abuse of the Antiquities Act to serve far-left special interests.” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said he’s prepared for legal action from environmental groups. “The policy is consistent with President Trump’s promise to give Americans a voice and make sure their voices are heard,” Zinke said.
Against: In December, 30 Native American tribes, including the Navajo, Ute, Hopi and Pueblo united to support Bears Ears National Monument. In February, Patagonia pulled out of Salt Lake City’s Outdoor Retailer show, citing a stage agenda against Bears Ears National Monument and public, recreational use of federal lands. Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario called yesterday’s executive order “an assault on America’s most treasured lands and oceans.”
Dig Deeper: Field & Stream writer Hal Herring pens an excellent perspective of national monuments from the view of a backcountry hunter, hiker and angler.
Issue 3: The Fight for Clean Water
Perhaps no issue affects sport fishing more than the constant battle over water regulations and protections. On February 28, President Trump issued an executive order instructing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review the 2015 Waters of the United States Rule. That rule protected headwaters and wetlands from agricultural runoff and industrial pollutants.
For: Farmers and ranchers applauded the order, saying the Clean Water Rule put unfair regulations on their operations and infringed on their private property rights. President Trump called the order a win for American workers. On April 26, Energy & Environment Legal Institute president Steve Milloy said “American air and water were cleaned up more than 25 years ago.” Milloy was a member of the Trump Administration’s EPA transition team.
Against: Conservation organizations, including Trout Unlimited and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership condemned the move. A joint release from the two groups implied that the order threatens 828,000 jobs in the $50 billion sport fishing industry and 1.5 million duck hunters who combine to add $3 billion to the U.S. economy.
Dig Deeper: PBS postulates on the position of farmers and ranchers regarding the rule. Scientific American says the move could threaten water supply.
Two Sides to Every Debate
America’s favorite Science Guy on Climate Change:
Prager U’s take on why fossil fuels are good: