A state Senate fi­nance chair­man has blocked the flow of $1.27 mil­lion in fed­er­al grant mon­ey for loon con­ser­va­tion, delay­ing a Min­ne­so­ta plan to re­duce the use of lead fish­ing tack­le.

Sen. Bill In­ge­brigt­sen, R-Al­ex­an­dri­a, said he won’t stop the grant mon­ey and mere­ly wants to edu­cate mem­bers of his En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Resources Fi­nance Committee. But the in­defi­nite stop­page has irked fel­low legis­la­tors and the Min­ne­so­ta Pol­lu­tion Control Agency (MPCA). The mon­ey is for a pub­lic a­ware­ness cam­paign to en­cour­age an­glers to switch from lead sink­ers and jigs to nontoxic al­ter­na­tives.

“The MPCA doesn’t under­stand why the hold hasn’t been lift­ed since loon con­ser­va­tion is a common-sense pri­or­i­ty for every Min­ne­so­tan,’’ MPCA Com­mis­sion­er Lau­ra Bish­op’s of­fice said in a prepared statement.

In­ge­brigt­sen said he’ll re­lease the mon­ey af­ter hold­ing a com­mit­tee hear­ing. But state Rep. Rick Han­sen, D-South St. Paul, has pre­pared a bill to un­lock the mon­ey, if ne­ces­sary.

“For gosh sakes this is a­bout the BP oil spill and loons,’’ said Han­sen, In­ge­brigt­sen’s House coun­ter­part.

MPCA seni­or adviser Darin Broton said de­tails of the MPCA’s “Get the Lead Out” cam­paign have been pub­lic since be­fore Sept. 25, when the ap­pli­ca­tion was made to the U.S. Fish & Wild­life Service. A lar­ger fed­er­al ap­pro­pri­a­tion for loon hab­i­tat work in Min­ne­so­ta was ac­cept­ed last month with­out ques­tion. Both grants de­rive from a na­tion­al set­tle­ment over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexi­co.

DNR re­tir­ee Car­rol Hen­der­son, who worked years to secure a share of those funds, said he can’t recall an­oth­er time when Min­ne­so­ta “turned down’’ sig­nifi­cant fed­er­al grants for fish and wild­life con­ser­va­tion.

Hen­der­son and Han­sen both said they sus­pect the hold­up is re­lated to in­dus­try op­po­si­tion to pro­grams that dis­cour­age the use of lead in hunt­ing am­mu­ni­tion and fish­ing gear. Federal Am­mu­ni­tion is a ma­jor em­ploy­er in Ano­ka. In ad­di­tion, gun rights ac­tiv­ists say lead am­mu­ni­tion is un­der at­tack by anti-hunt­ing groups.

In­ge­brigt­sen said lead has noth­ing to do with his in­ter­rup­tion of the fund­ing. He met with Bish­op at the Capitol on Dec. 13 to air his con­cern that the MPCA might use the grant to add per­ma­nent em­ploy­ees.

“It just nev­er ends. I want­ed to hold their feet to the fire,’’ In­ge­brigt­sen said. “It has re­al­ly dust­ed ev­er­y­bod­y up a little bit.’’

Broton said the a­gen­cy an­swered the sen­a­tor’s ques­tions and has been wait­ing for him to sched­ule a hear­ing and move on.

The grant could have start­ed Jan. 1 to fund state­wide ed­u­ca­tion and out­reach events, the MPCA said. Based on DNR field work and University of Min­ne­so­ta ex­am­in­ations of dead loons, Hen­der­son said it’s pos­si­ble that 100 to 200 loons die per year from lead pois­on­ing. The birds in­gest sink­ers and jigs when they con­sume grit on lake bot­toms to help them di­gest food. The same phenomena is kill­ing swans.