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Court Holds Navy to Rules Safeguarding Marine Mammals

Safeguarding marine mammals from deadly sonar.

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"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."

Kenneth R. Weiss reports for the Los Angeles Times March 2, 2008.

Edited by Carolyn Allen
| marine | security |

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