Judge rules Navy must comply with sonar rules
A federal judge has ruled that the Navy must comply with earlier restrictions imposed on its use of sonar near the California coast despite a recent attempt by President Bush to exempt the agency from relevant environmental laws. The judge said that Bush’s Navy exemption last month was “constitutionally suspect,” but that she didn’t need to rule on its constitutionality to reinstate the injunction. Bush and the Navy had argued that sonar training exercises were a matter of national security that also constituted an emergency, allowing the agency to ignore environmental laws. The judge disagreed, ruling, “The Navy’s current ’emergency’ is simply a creature of its own making, i.e., its failure to prepare adequate environmental documentation in a timely fashion.” Moreover, she wrote, accepting the Navy’s arguments would produce “the absurd result of permitting agencies to avoid their [environmental] obligations by re-characterizing ordinary, planned activities as ’emergencies’ in the interest of national security, economic stability, or other long-term goals.” Wow, she’s got them pegged.