Monday, February 4, 2008

Judge: Navy not exempt from sonar ruling

I'd posted a few days ago about the Bush administration's January 15th attempt to circumvent a federal court's ruling by granting a waiver exempting the Navy and its anti-submarine warfare exercises from federal law. On Monday, the AP reported (via Yahoo News) that the judge in the case has ruled that the Navy is not exempted from compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The judge also wrote that she has "significant concerns about the constitutionality of the President's exemption," but did not need to reach the constitutional issue. A copy of the judge's 36-page opinion (pdf) is available here. From the article:
"It's an excellent decision," said Joel Reynolds, attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is spearheading the legal fight. "It reinstates the proper balance between national security and environmental protection."
. . .
Said Reynolds: "I've always felt that the president's actions were illegal in this case, and the judge has affirmed that point of view with the decision today."
. . .
Scientists have said that loud sonar can damage the brains and ears of marine mammals, and that it may mask the echoes some whales and dolphins listen for when they use their own natural sonar to locate food.

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