The decision drew immediate criticism from environmentalists who had fought to stop the Navy's sonar training.
"The president's action is an attack on the rule of law," said Joel Reynolds, director of the Marine Mammal Protection Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "By exempting the Navy from basic safeguards under both federal and state law, the president is flouting the will of Congress, the decision of the California Coastal Commission and a ruling by the federal court."
A federal judge had issued a preliminary injunction earlier this month requiring the Navy to create a 12-nautical-mile, no-sonar zone along the California coast and to post trained lookouts to watch for marine mammals before and during exercises. Sonar would have to be shut down when mammals are spotted within 2,200 yards, under the order.
The court found that using mid-frequency active sonar violated the Coastal Zone Management Act and Bush exempted the Navy from a section of that act.
Complying with the environmental law would "undermine the Navy's ability to conduct realistic training exercises that are necessary to ensure the combat effectiveness of carrier and expeditionary strike groups," Bush said.
The Natural Resources Defense Council had sued to force the Navy to lessen the harm of its sonar exercises. In November, a federal appeals court said the sonar problem needed to be fixed.
Can we please, please, at least get an outraged statement from the Democratic leaders in Congress? I'm not asking much, lord knows this is merely the string in a long list of these type of actions.