Enviros and Navy square off on whales
If you think the World Cup is exciting, try keeping up with the current legal battle between the Navy and the environmental community. On June 28, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups filed a temporary restraining order against the Navy’s use of sonar testing.
Naval exercises are set to begin next week in the Pacific Rim, where naval forces from eight nations are gathering for training. High-intensity sonar can damage whales’ brain and ears, and lower intensity sonar can block their ability to navigate, find food, and avoid predators.
On Friday, the Defense Department responded to the lawsuit by exercising a national security exemption authorized by Congress in 2004. Based on the exemption, the Navy will not be bound by requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act for six months.
But just today, a U.S. District Judge issued a temporary restraining order against the Navy based on NEPA — the National Environmental Policy Act. Fortunately, this country has more than one law against the needless infliction of harm to endangered whales and the environment.