Whale Case Goes to Supreme Court

NEW YORK (RUSHPRNEWS) JULY 14, 2008 – I have important news: our courtroom campaign to protect whales from the Navy’s deadly sonar systems is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. At the request of the Bush Administration, the Court has agreed to consider whether the Navy can sidestep key environmental laws during its sonar exercises off the Southern California coast. The case will be heard this fall. As you know, a federal district judge and a federal appeals court have both sided with NRDC, ruling unanimously that the Navy must put environmental safeguards in place. They also affirmed that no government agency is above the law.

The New York Times recently editorialized in support of our position. (You can read excerpts from that editorial below.)

Tens of thousands of dolphins and whales, including endangered blue whales, could be harmed by Navy sonar off the coast of Southern California if the Bush Administration gets its way.

Despite the fact that common-sense sonar precautions will not compromise our country’s military readiness, the Bush Administration will not take NO for an answer.

It won’t be thwarted by the fact that federal judges have already rejected these security claims as exaggerated and unfounded.

It won’t be swayed by the fact that NATO and the Australian Navy require similar precautions.

Nor will it heed the Navy’s own estimates that these drills could disturb or injure nearly 170,000 marine animals — and cause permanent injury to more than 450 whales.

Thanks to your past support, we’ve won major courtroom victories in our decades-long campaign to reduce damage from the Navy’s dangerous sonar systems. And with your help, we intend to do everything possible to win this momentous Supreme Court battle.

I’ll be sure to keep you informed as events unfold in this historic case, which has broad implications beyond the sonar issue, because it raises the fundamental question of whether the military and the White House can unilaterally flout our country’s environmental laws.

You know where we stand on that issue. We will mount a vigorous defense aimed at safeguarding whales along America’s coastlines and making sure that our environmental laws are not undermined by this or any other Administration.Thank you for standing with us in this long, uphill fight for our planet’s whales.

Frances Beinecke
Natural Resources Defense Council

P.S. Taking on the U.S. Navy and the Pentagon — the most powerful government agency on the planet — will require unprecedented financial support. If you would like to help us wage and win this landmark court case, please

Key excerpts from The New York Times editorial, “Of Whales and National Security”, July 2, 2008:”Environmentalists have long claimed that the Navy’s use of sonar for training exercises unduly threatens whales, dolphins and other acoustically sensitive marine creatures. The Navy has adopted some procedures to mitigate the risk but has resisted stronger protections ordered by two federal courts. The Supreme Court has now agreed to address the issue.””The case at hand was filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other conservation groups to rein in Navy training exercises that use sonar to search for submarines off the coast of Southern California. The Navy says that its exercises pose little threat to marine life and that the training is vital to national security.”
“A federal district judge and a federal appeals court in California, after careful reviews of the facts, have found that the Navy’s arguments are largely hollow…The Navy itself estimates that the current series of drills, conducted over two years, might permanently injure hundreds of whales and significantly disrupt the behavior of some 170,000 marine mammals.”
“The federal courts have played a valuable role in deflating exaggerated claims of national security. Let us hope that the Supreme Court backs them up.”

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