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Bush administration appeals Navy sonar case to Supreme Court

[JURIST] The US Justice Department filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court on Monday seeking review of a Ninth Circuit ruling affirming a district court opinion [JURIST reports] 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 its petition, the Justice Department argued that the decision from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit interferes with the Navy's ability to prepare for war, that national security interests should override environmental regulations, and that there is no evidence to support the claim that the sonar exercises harm marine wildlife. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which filed the lawsuit seeking to halt Navy sonar use due to harm caused to whales and other marine mammals, published a 2005 paper on the impact of sonar on marine wildlife [NRDC materials].

The current dispute arose when President Bush, in reaction to a November 2007 Ninth Circuit ruling [PDF text] that the Navy should limit its use of high-powered sonar [JURIST report], issued a memorandum [text] exempting the Navy from the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) [text]. In addition, the Council on Environmental Quality authorized "alternative arrangements" [PDF text] for the Navy's compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) [EPA materials] due to "emergency circumstances." AP has more.

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