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Bush grants exemption from environmental law for Navy sonar use

[JURIST] US President George W. Bush on Tuesday authorized the US Navy to continue using sonar [press release] in its anti-submarine warfare training off the coast of southern California despite a November 2007 ruling [PDF text; NRDC press release] by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that the Navy should limit its use of high-powered sonar [JURIST report]. Bush exempted the Navy from the requirements of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) [text] on the basis that the use of sonar is of paramount interest to US national security. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) [advocacy website], which brought the original lawsuit to halt Navy sonar use, warned that sonar is harmful to whales and other marine mammals [press release] while NRDC President Joel Reynolds characterized the presidential waiver as "an attack on the rule of law." NRDC plans to file an appeal to Bush's exemption.

The NRDC has argued that the Navy's decision to use "medium frequency active sonar" without preparing a full environmental impact statement violates several federal laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act [EPA materials], the Endangered Species Act [PDF text], the Administrative Procedures Act [text] and the CZMA. AP has more.

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