In better news for environmentalists, a federal judge has rejected an effort by the White House and the U.S. Navy to exempt underwater military testing and other deep-sea activities from environmental review. Judge Christina Snyder ruled yesterday that the National Environmental Policy Act applies to such activities even if they are conducted beyond U.S. territorial water (but within 200 miles of U.S. shores). At issue was a Navy sonar system using bursts of sound so loud they could cause temporary or permanent loss of hearing in marine mammals, abandonment of habitat, and disruption of mating, feeding, nursing, and migration, according to some scientists. The ruling was cheered by environmentalists, who had feared that a victory by the Bush administration could also have exempted from review such activities as ocean dumping and commercial fishing.
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