When the last bullet-producing lead smelter closes its doors on Dec. 31, it will mark a major victory for those who say lead-based ammunition pollutes the environment, but others warn 'green' bullets will cost more, drive up copper prices and do little to help conservation
The bid to ban lead bullets, seen by some as harmful to the environment, started slowly more than a decade ago. But with two dozen states, including California, banning bullets made of the soft, heavy metal, the lead bullet's epitaph was already being written when the federal government finished it off.
First, the military announced plans to phase out lead bullets by 2018.
Then the federal Environmental Protection Agency, citing emissions, ordered the shutdown of the Doe Run company's lead smelter in Herculaneum, Mo., by year's end.
Whether by state or federal regulation, or by market forces, lead bullets will be all but phased out within a few years in favor of so-called green bullets, experts say. While many believe that this will help the environment by keeping lead from contaminating groundwater, others say switching to copper-based bullets will cost hunters and sportsmen more and have little effect on the environment.