Saturday, January 26, 2008

Adminsitration attempts override of court decision on Navy's sonar

Back in November, I'd posted on a decision from the Ninth Circuit remanding a case back to a lower district court for further consideration. The issue on remand involved the Navy's use of sonar and the possible impact on marine life. The district court's decision came out earlier this month.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported on the decision in an article entitled "Whales in the Navy's Way." According to the article, the lower court found that the Navy's own research showed that from earlier this month on the sonar had a propensity to cause permanent injury or death to certain marine life. Additionally, the Times viewed the decision as having carefully crafted a decision balanced the testing of the sonar with the protection of marine life. Despite this balance, the Bush Administration attempted to override the court order by granting the Navy waivers, on national security grounds, from two environmental laws on which the decision was based.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, which brought the suit, issued a press release on the waivers. Wayne Pacelle, the President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, also weighed in with a reaction to the events at a post at his blog, wherein he observed:
Rather than work with the plaintiffs and the court on implementing the new restrictions—rather than live up to its rhetoric of being a “good steward of the oceans”—the brass went straight to the White House, asking for an exemption from the nation’s environmental laws.

On Jan. 16, President Bush granted the extraordinary request, in full.

This was a tremendously disappointing example of the Administration acting like it is above the law.

The military must play by the rules. We should not suspend our environmental and marine mammal protection laws simply because the Navy wants it that way.

Congress should now step in, and restore a rational balance between our need to protect our country, and our need to preserve the marine life and the health of our environment.

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