Doe Run made significant efforts to reduce lead emissions from the smelter, but in 2008 the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for lead that were 10 times tighter than the previous standard. Given the new lead air quality standard, Doe Run made the decision to close the Herculaneum smelter.
Whatever the EPA's motivation when creating the new lead air quality standard, increasingly restrictive regulation of lead is likely to affect the production and ct of traditional ammunition. Just this month, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will ban lead ammunition for all hunting in California. The Center for Biological Diversity has tried multiple times to get similar regulations at the federal level by trying, and repeatedly failing, to get the EPA to regulate conventional ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
At this time, it's unclear if Doe Run or another company will open a new lead smelter in the United States that can meet the more stringent lead air quality standards by using more modern smelting methods. What is clear is that after the Herculaneum smelter closes its doors in December, entirely domestic manufacture of conventional ammunition, from raw ore to finished cartridge, will be impossible.
Gun-rights fanatics and Obama haters like Allen West see this as a conspiracy against gun owners. Being completely self-absorbed, they see the EPA decision only as it affects them. They think it really has nothing to do with air pollution or the dangers of lead in the environment and only about "back door gun control." The fact that many industries use lead other than the ammo makers doesn't phase them. It's all about their rights, you see.