Whales 0, Navy 1: Court Rules In Favor of Lifting Restrictions on Harmful Sonar Use
Supreme Court Sides with the Navy
Today the Supreme Court lifted restrictions on Navy sonar use, a practice that has been found to disorient and beach whales. The defeat was felt among environmentalists across the States. More below the fold.The court's ruling was 5-4 in favor of the Navy who justices said needed to conduct realistic exercises to respond to enemy submarines. They noted exercises were only true to life with the use of sonar.
While federal courts in California had put restrictions on sonar use off the state's coast to protect whales, the Bush Administration stated there was no truth to the claim that sonar is harmful to whale populations. Federal courts have cited both scientific studies and Navy statements that the sonar use can cause hearing loss, disorientation and beaching in whales, dolphins and seals.
In the Supreme Court hearing, the majority opinion written by Justice Roberts stated that these federal courts abused their discretionary power and felt Navy operations were more important than marine mammal health. According to the SF Chronicle he also wrote,
The overall public interest tips "strongly in favor of the Navy." The most serious possible injury would be harm to an unknown number of the marine mammals. "In contrast, forcing the Navy to deploy an inadequately trained anti-submarine force jeopardizes the safety of the fleet."
While the dissident judges observed the serious harm sonar may inflict on whales, in the end, the Navy won. Restrictions on sonar use have been lifted. More on Whales and Sonar Threats:Can We Prevent Beached Whales?Acoustic Smog is Killing WhalesKiller Whales in Eden