For Immediate Release
Jessica Lass, NRDC, 202/468-6718 (cell)
US Supreme Court to Determine Navy's Use of High-Intensity Sonar
The Technology Can Cause Lethal Harm to Marine Mammals
WASHINGTON - Today, the nation's highest Court heard arguments to determine whether President Bush had the authority earlier this year to exempt the U.S. Navy from federal environmental laws governing the use of high-intensity sonar. The White House issued the exemptions after a federal court ordered the Navy to safeguard marine mammals against harm from high-intensity, mid-frequency active sonar being used in a series of exercises off southern California. Those safeguards were sought by a coalition of conservation groups led by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The Navy acknowledges that sonar can be deadly to marine mammals, and that the exercises at issue would "take" an estimated 170,000 marine mammals, including causing permanent injury to more than 500 whales and temporary deafness to at least 8,000 whales.
Following is a statement by Joel Reynolds, senior attorney and director of NRDC's marine mammal program:
"As the Supreme Court heard today, there's no question that high-intensity military sonar can injure and kill whales, dolphins, and other marine life and that the Navy can reduce the risk of this harm by commonsense safeguards without compromising our military readiness. These have been the unanimous conclusions of every court that has considered this issue, even after President Bush sought to intervene on the Navy's behalf."
Following is a statement by Jeffrey Flocken, Washington, DC director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare:
"This case is about achieving environmental protection while maintaining our important national security standards. It does not need to be an either/or scenario when it comes to ensuring our waters are protected and our marine wildlife is healthy."