Navy, NRDC Settle Whale Suit:

The Navy and the Natural Resources Defense Council have settled the latter's lawsuit over the potential impact of Navy sonar on whales in the Pacific. According to the AP, the deal requires the Navy to continue researching the effect of sonar on marine mammals, but will not have to adopt any additional mitigation measures.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Navy, NRDC Settle Whale Suit:
  2. Habeas Porpoise - Marine Mammals vs. Navy Sonar:
Bad (mail) (www):
This always seemed to be one of those issues that could have easily been resolved without a lawsuit, and it was a fight largely about the Navy not wanting random groups to be able to dictate what they can and can't do, far more than whether or not they really needed to use sonar in this way.
12.29.2008 11:24am
Cornellian (mail):
According the the Constitution, Congress dictates to the military what they can and can't do. Therefore, if the activity had violated the statute, it would have been perfectly appropriate for the court to say so.
12.29.2008 12:34pm
Hmmmm. The Navy has to keep researching the effects of sonar on whales in the Pacific? I wonder who is getting the money to do that research.
12.29.2008 2:11pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Didn't the Supreme Court rule on this issue recently? Why on Earth would they settle?

Besides, the navy has every reason to continue researching mammalian sonar. This is what they do anyway.
12.29.2008 4:49pm
U.Va. Grad:
Didn't the Supreme Court rule on this issue recently? Why on Earth would they settle?

As I recall, the NRDC's suit was a NEPA claim--basically, a suit alleging procedural defects (specifically, that the Navy didn't file an environmental assessment as required by the statute). If I remember my environmental law class correctly, the remedies under NEPA are procedural: the most the NRDC would have gotten was an injunction until the Navy filed an EA.

The NRDC didn't make any substantive claims in its suit. For example, the suit didn't claim that the Navy was in fact harming endangered whales or whatever. They'd have been free to raise that claim in another suit, this time with the real possibility of a permanent injunction instead of a mere stopgap while an EA is written up.

The settlement strikes me as eminently sensible, since, as you point out, the Navy is interested in researching this stuff anyway, and now, they can avoid lawsuits about it so long as they issue reports.
12.29.2008 6:35pm
"I wonder who is getting the money to do that research."

Cetologists, one would imagine.
12.30.2008 8:42am
submandave (mail) (www):
From a practical, operator's perspective, the whole "whale-active sonar" thing is ridiculous. A few years ago we were doing an exercise off Catalina and just happened upon several whales that had died of natural causes (a known death pattern at that time), but since we had been using active MF sonar prior to their discovery there were hoops and paperwork drills to be run ad nauseum with no benefit.

Whales are smart. If MF sonar hurts them they'll swim somewhere else. The ocean is big, you know.
12.30.2008 9:35am

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