LOS ANGELES (January 17, 2008) – A federal judge this afternoon temporarily stayed part of her own injunction requiring the Navy to protect whales from high-intensity sonar during upcoming training exercises in Southern California waters.
The two-page order by Judge Florence-Marie Cooper keeps most of her original injunction intact, including a 12-nautical-mile no-sonar buffer zone along the coast, a no-sonar zone between Catalina and San Clemente islands, additional monitoring for marine mammals during exercises and additional training for monitors.
The order temporarily lifts a requirement for the Navy to shut off sonar if marine mammals are detected within 2,000 meters of a sonar source, and the requirement to shut off sonar during surface ducting conditions, which allow sound to travel underwater a greater distance than it normally would.
“We’re optimistic that we will prevail when the issue of the presidential waivers is fully briefed next week,” said Joel Reynolds, a senior attorney and director of the Marine Mammal Protection Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which brought the lawsuit against the Navy.
The Bush administration on Tuesday issued two waivers purporting to exempt the Navy from the statutes on which Judge Cooper’s injunction was based -- the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).