Court Strikes New Balance for Navy, Whales

Wednesday, November 14, 2007
The U.S. Navy can go ahead with training exercises this month using sonar off the California coast but should afterward implement new guidelines to protect whales, a U.S. appeals court said, according to a Reuters report. For years, U.S. courts have weighed the rights of whales to live undisturbed versus U.S. national security needs. The order of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was the latest effort to strike the right balance. In August, the 9th Circuit in a split 2-1 decision put on hold a lower court injunction blocking the Navy sonar tests that wildlife supporters say harm whales. The Navy said its tests are vital to maintain military readiness. The dissenting judge in that case asked why the Navy had dropped environmental mitigation measures to protect whales it had used from mid-2006 to January 2007. A new order from a different three-judge panel also cited the need to revive such mitigation efforts and asked a lower court to reconsider the issue. It allowed the Navy to continue its exercises scheduled to end by November 22nd, and then said a previous injunction should resume pending new rules to minimize damage to whales. [Source: Reuters]

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