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Court Holds Navy to Rules Safeguarding Marine Mammals
Safeguarding marine mammals from deadly sonar.
"A federal appeals court has rejected the Bush administration effort to
exempt Navy sonar training from key environmental laws, backing up a lower
court that imposed extensive safeguards to protect whales and dolphins from
harmful sonic blasts. Even so, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gave
the Navy a 30-day reprieve from the most far-reaching protections -- such
as shutting down sonar when whales are spotted within 2,200 yards -- so it
could conduct a pair of training missions this month off Southern
California and to give it time to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The decision is the latest in a string of
legal defeats for the Navy in Los Angeles and Hawaii as it tries to avoid
court-ordered restraints on how it trains sailors to hunt for submarines
with a type of sonar that has been linked to the death of whales and
dolphins. The cases pit the interests of national security and troop
readiness against the enforcement of environmental laws and the
safeguarding of federally protected marine mammals. The case in Los
Angeles has taken on additional overtones of a constitutional struggle
between the judicial and administrative branches of government."
R. Weiss reports for the Los Angeles Times March 2, 2008.
Edited by Carolyn Allen