Whales be damned! Navy exempted from sonar curbs

Bush wants the courts to throw out an injunction against the use of this sonar, so loud it can kill marine mammals unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity, and injure them many miles away. Water conducts sound much better than air, and this sonar is way too loud to avoid injuring the sensitive eardrums of marine mammals anywhere nearby. This story is from Reuters

Navy exempted from sonar curbs
Wed Jan 16, 2008 11:55pm GMT
By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President George W. Bush has exempted the Navy from a law restricting the use of sonar near the California coast, the White House said on Wednesday, despite concerns the technology could harm sea mammals.

But Navy officials said the order, which Bush signed on Tuesday as he traveled in the Middle East, does not allow it to proceed with anti-submarine warfare training exercises scheduled for next week.

Instead, the exemption and a separate action by the White House Council on Environmental Quality aim to support the government’s appeal of a court injunction that the Navy says has severely limited its ability to use sonar in training exercises off the California coast.

On Tuesday the Justice Department asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to throw out that injunction. It based its request partly on Bush’s conclusion that the exercises are in the “paramount interest of the United States” and “essential to national security.”

The district court on January 3 barred the Navy’s use of powerful submarine-hunting mid-frequency active radar within 12 miles of the coast, protecting a strip of water that is habitat for whales, dolphins and other marine mammals.

The court also imposed other restrictions, including a stipulation that the Navy switch off sonar if marine mammals are spotted within 2,200 yards of sonar vessels.

The ruling created an “unreasonable risk that the Navy will not be able to conduct effective sonar training necessary to certify strike groups for deployment in support of world-wide operational and combat activities,” the Navy said.

To bolster the appeal, the White House freed the Navy from restrictions under two federal laws that formed the basis for the injunction.

Bush’s order exempted the Navy from sonar requirements for California contained in the Coastal Zone Management Act.

At the same time, the Council on Environmental Quality waived Navy compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act by approving alternate guidelines for sonar use along the California coast.

This sonar is essential to national security? How so? Another song and dance to justify the wanton disregard for other beings so typical of the military-industrial complex. Whose submarines are deemed a threat now, China? The way things are going, the military is posing a far bigger threat than the enemies from which it supposedly is guarding its citizens, since it need fear no retaliation. One might hope Democrats would make a big stink over this, but most are too petrified with the prospect of appearing weak on national security to raise a peep of protest.

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