Two Thumbs Up For The Whales!



The federal appeals court has rejected the White House’s unprecedented effort to exempt the U.S. Navy from environmental laws during two years of training with dangerous mid-frequency sonar off the Southern California coast. The three-judge panel upheld a lower court order — won by NRDC in January — requiring the Navy to put safeguards in place that would protect whales and other marine mammals from needless injury and death.

 “The appeals court has once again affirmed that neither President Bush nor the Navy is above the law,” said Joel Reynolds, director of NRDC’s Marine Mammal Protection Project.

The Navy itself has estimated that the sonar drills would disturb or injure 170,000 marine mammals and cause permanent injury to more than 450 whales, as well as temporary hearing impairment in at least 8,000 others. 

 In January 2008, U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper said the Navy’s existing plan for protecting marine mammals was grossly inadequate, and she ordered the Navy to put the strongest-ever safety measures in place during its maneuvers, including a ban on sonar use within 12 miles of the California coast and other important whale habitat.

Shortly after that landmark ruling, the White House issued an “emergency” waiver in an attempt to override the court’s order, but Judge Cooper sided once again with NRDC and rejected the waiver. The courtroom battle will likely continue as the Bush Administration seeks review of the case by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a related court victory, a federal court in San Francisco has issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Navy from deploying its dangerous low-frequency active (LFA) sonar system across 75 percent of the world’s oceans. At NRDC’s request, the injunction will ban LFA training in sensitive marine habitat, including the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, the Galapagos Islands and the Great Barrier Reef.

Mother Nature says Hats Off to ALL who have helped!


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