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Ninth Circuit upholds ruling against White House exemptions to allow Navy sonar use

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] has upheld a lower court decision [PDF text; JURIST report] rejecting the Bush administration's attempt to exempt the US Navy from environmental laws [JURIST report] so that the Navy could continue using sonar in its anti-submarine warfare training off the coast of southern California. In a ruling [PDF text] Friday, the appeals court affirmed the preliminary injunction put in place by the district court.

President Bush issued a memorandum [text] in January exempting the Navy from the Coastal Zone Management Act [text] and the Council on Environmental Quality authorized "alternative arrangements" [PDF text] for the Navy's compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act [EPA materials] due to "emergency circumstances." The executive action came despite a November 2007 ruling [PDF text] by the Ninth Circuit that the Navy should limit its use of high-powered sonar [JURIST report], and have now been rejected by both the district and appeals courts. In related litigation, a federal court in Hawaii also upheld a similar ban on exercises off the Hawaii coastline on Friday. AP has more.

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