by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society –
Only weeks after new scientific studies revealed that US Navy sonar testing is lethal to whales, the Bush administration won approval on November 7 to authorize the use of military sonar whenever and wherever Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfied wishes to deploy it.
The bill moves to the Senate next week and it is expected to pass.
“Whales and dolphins are now to be sacrificed to George Bush’s ridiculous strategies to combat terrorism.” Said Captain Paul Watson. “The President says that the security of the United States from terrorism justifies these extreme measures but I can’t think of one terrorist organization deploying nuclear submarines and that is the only thing that justifies low frequency sonar detection. This is simply another pork barrel windfall for the defense industry.”
US Navy Prepared to Terrorism the Seas
Earlier this year Navy sonar testing near the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the Pacific Northwest stressed Orca populations and killed several harbor porpoises.
The legislation is part of a $401 billion defense bill that gives the secretary of defense the right to exempt from the provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act “any action or category of actions” undertaken by the armed forces.
Without this legislation the Navy had required the approval of the National Marine Fisheries Service or the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The new law requires only that the defense secretary notify environmental regulators of his intentions.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said the bill embodied “common-sense environmental reforms allowing our troops to properly train.”
Critics find this very confusing because training troops should have nothing to do with bursting the eardrums of defenseless dolphins.
The Navy Calls Environmental Laws ‘Constrictive’
Navy spokesman Cappy Surette stated “The Navy finds the language (of the Marine Mammal Protection Act) extremely constrictive.”
The Marine Mammal Protection Act was adopted under the Nixon administration and to protect diminishing populations of seals, whales and dolphins. The Bush administration appears to have little concern about protecting marine mammals or endangered species.
We cannot trust George Bush to protect the whales,” said Captain Watson. “The military is now above the law and thus above the people.”
The legislation will undo the recent court victory by the Natural Resources Defense Council to limit the power and the range of the sonar. What the Navy could not achieve in the courts of the land they now can have given to them by the Executive.