President Bush fired another salvo in the ongoing fight pitting the U.S. Navy’s use of mid-frequency sonar against whales and other marine mammals that can be harmed by it. Bush yesterday exempted the Navy from parts of the Coastal Zone Management Act that a federal judge recently found the Navy was violating when it used the powerful sonar off the California coast. That judge had ordered the Navy to adopt a number of safety measures to protect sensitive marine mammals during sonar exercises, but with Bush’s pass, it’s unclear what parts, if any, of the rules the Navy will now have to follow. In the memo issuing the exemption, Bush wrote that complying with the CZMA “would undermine the Navy’s ability to conduct realistic training exercises that are necessary to ensure the combat effectiveness of carrier and expeditionary strike groups. This exemption will enable the Navy to train effectively … in support of worldwide operational and combat activities, which are essential to national security.”

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