A California judge has ruled that President Bush went too far when he moved to exempt the Navy from laws limiting the use of sonar enacted to protect whales and other sea life, the Washington Post reports. The White House had argued that obeying the laws would create an emergency, but the judge ruled such an "emergency" was fabricated and the administration had no authority in the matter.
Accepting the White House argument would lead to the "absurd result of permitting agencies to avoid their obligations by re-characterizing ordinary activities as emergencies," said the strongly worded ruling. Environmental groups have battled the Navy's sonar exercises off California for years. The sonar is believed to interfere with whales' sense of direction, which may lead to beachings and death.