Appeals Court Nixes Sonar Exemption Claim by Navy

But court sets aside protections for marine life for another 30 days
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2008 5:25 AM CST
The flukes of a gray whale as it dives off the Southern California coast near the Palos Verdes Peninsula is seen Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008. A court yesterday ruled against the Navy's request to be exempted...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The US Navy is not exempt from laws that ban whale-harming sonar, a federal appeals court has ruled. The Bush administration had contested an earlier ruling, arguing that halting sonar use when whales are nearby poses "significant restrictions on our ability to train realistically." Whales and dolphins have been found dead of bleeding around the brain near training sites, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Taking the mandated precautions to avoid harming marine life "will not likely compromise the Navy's ability to effectively train," the court found. The judge called the White House's "emergency" exemption "constitutionally suspect," but still gave the Navy 30 days to bring the case to the Supreme Court—and continue training missions in the meantime.