Court rejects President Bush sonar waiver, defends whales
NEW YORK, (RUSHPRNEWS) February 5, 2008- The public generous support got us back to federal court, where we’ve scored another big victory for whales — this time over the President of the United States!
Last night, a federal judge struck down a waiver issued by theWhite House that would have exempted the U.S. Navy from obeyinga key environmental law during sonar training exercises thatendanger whales.
In doing so, the court affirmed the bedrock principle that we doNOT live under an imperial presidency. Both the White House andthe military must obey and uphold our environmental laws.
Here’s a great segment about our victory from today’s “MorningEdition” on National Public Radio:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18689650
President Bush’s waiver was a last-ditch attempt to let the Navyunleash an onslaught of military sonar off the coast of southernCalifornia — home to five endangered species of whales –without taking precautions to protect marine mammals from alethal bombardment of sound.
Last month, the same judge — U.S. District Judge Florence-MarieCooper — ordered the Navy to put safeguards in place during thesonar maneuvers in order to protect marine mammals from needlessinjury and death. Shortly after that ruling, President Bushissued his “emergency” waiver, attempting to override thecourt’s order.
In last night’s ruling, Judge Cooper called the Navy’s so-calledemergency “a creature of its own making,” and reaffirmed thatthe military can train effectively without needlessly harmingwhales.
The Navy’s maneuvers would take place near the Channel Islands– one of the world’s most sensitive marine environments. TheNavy itself estimates that the booming sonar would harass orharm marine mammals some 170,000 times — and cause permanentinjury in more than 400 cases.
The far-reaching precautions imposed on the Navy by Judge Cooperinclude a ban on mid-frequency sonar within 12 miles of theCalifornia coast — a zone that is heavily used by migratingwhales and dolphins — and between the Channel Islands.
Make no mistake: we must be fully prepared to keep fighting forthose humane restrictions — especially if the White House orNavy appeals this decision to a higher court.
Your support and activism have taken us this far. I know youwill continue standing with us in the courtroom battles ahead –until that day when whales no longer need to die for the sake ofmilitary practice.
Natural Resources Defense Council