Friday, November 14, 2008; Page A18
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sued the Navy in 2007, arguing that sonar training exercises off the Southern California coast would harm marine mammals, including dolphins, whales and sea lions. Federal courts in California agreed with the NRDC and ordered the Navy to halt the training unless it adhered to six restrictions. The Navy had been operating under self-imposed restrictions that reflected several of those proposed, but it rejected two of the curbs imposed by the court, including an order to shut down the sonar when a marine mammal came within 2,200 yards of a ship. The Navy argued that there was little or no evidence that the kinds of sonar exercises it has conducted for the past 40 years have caused significant and permanent harm to sea life; it also argued that the two restrictions it objected to were so onerous that they were likely to undermine the effectiveness of the training. The Supreme Court ruled this week that the federal courts in California overstepped their bounds. The justices gave the Navy the go-ahead to conduct the training.
While the decision is a victory for the Defense Department, it does not leave the environmental groups without recourse. ... More
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