Photo: noaa.gov

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The White House has attempted to stymie a rule that would help protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, documents show. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists recommended that large ships off the Atlantic coast be required to slow their speed to 10 knots (11.5 miles per hour) during certain times of the year to avoid deadly collisions with the whales. Roughly three North Atlantic right whales are struck each year, and fewer than 400 remain. Since February 2007, the Vice President’s Office and the White House Office of Management and Budget have been pushing experts at NOAA to alter their conclusions linking ship speed and whale mortality, according to documents. NOAA scientists so far have stood their ground, writing in response to pressure, “The basic facts remain that (1) there is a direct relationship between speed and death/serious injury, and (2) at vessel speeds at or below 10 knots the probability of death/serious injury is greatly reduced.”

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