At least half a dozen dead porpoises have washed up on beaches in Washington state and British Columbia in the last week, spurring speculation that they were killed when the USS Shoup, a Navy destroyer, used its high-intensity sonar last Monday as it traveled near the San Juan Islands off the Washington coast. Observers reported that as many as 100 porpoises leapt through the water at high speed in an attempt to get away from the sound; about 20 orcas and a minke whale were also seen fleeing. The blasts of sound could have damaged the sensitive hearing of the marine mammals, which would impair their ability to navigate and find food. The Navy has come under criticism for using this type of sonar, which some scientists believe led to the deaths of seven beaked whales and the beaching of 17 others in the Bahamas in 2000. But what troubles enviros more than these incidents is legislation being pushed by the Bush administration that would exempt the military from environmental laws, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act.