Of the major bloggers on this site, I am certainly not the ‘expert’ on domestic politics or environmental policy. But as Jon Tester’s Sportsmen’s Act seems to be currently stalled, perhaps now there is time to discuss it, pros and cons.
My own opinion, for what its worth, is mostly pro. Though I’m not a hunter and not a particularly avid angler, I like the idea of increasing hunting access because I think the tradition of common land use is one of the finest traditions in this country, and because I believe that people’s enjoyment of unspoiled lands is key to inspiring them to protect them. A provision allowing the importation of legally-shot polar bears seems entirely trivial – the animals are dead, the point of keeping them in Canada escapes me. But the objection to lead ammunition and fishing tackle being exempted to the EPA is a big deal, and I think it’s positive that it’s being discussed on a legislative level. Too often this sort of thing is relegated to bureaucratic decisions within the EPA that escape notice from casual observers, radically changing environmental policies without a lot of publicity, and leaving dissatisfied members of the public not knowing who to hold responsible. The economics of toxic versus non-toxic products, and the rationale behind federal regulation versus state regulation of lead, are topics I know some of our reader know quite a bit about, and I’d be interested in hearing it.
As far as the budgetary argument, it seems rather trivial. If the rules truly are inviolable, they are badly written – prohibiting bills that pay for themselves make budgetary compromise very difficult. As to whether a Senate bill can constitutionally pay for itself, its an interesting question – but it’d be worth asking the Supreme Court if it is allowable. If it is actually ruled unconstitutional, it seems to be a barrier to creating balanced budgetary initiatives. It seems more likely that Republicans don’t want to see a Democratic Senator accomplish anything, but also don’t want to openly oppose a bill popular with their constituents – a good opinion about this from Montana is available here.
But as I said, I’m most interested in what hunters, anglers, environmental activists and other stakeholders reading the blog think!