[Guest post by DRJ]
Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, an appeal from federal district court and Ninth Circuit rulings that enjoined the Navy’s use of sonar in submarine-hunting training exercises because sonar might interfere with marine mammals’ ability to navigate and communicate. The district court order created a 12-nautical-mile no-sonar zone along the southern California coast and ordered the Navy to shut off all sonar use within 2,200 yards of a marine mammal.
Thus, the issue before the Supreme Court is how to balance the national security and environmental concerns related to the Navy’s use of sonar. On one side, the Bush Administration contends sonar training is “vitally important for sailors who may be deployed around the world in search of enemy submarines” and is crucial to national security. The Administration claims there is scant evidence that sonar harms whales and dolphins.
On the other side, the Natural Resources Defense Council says sonar’s piercing sound is “comparable to the noise of a jet engine magnified 2,000 times” and claims that beaked whales are especially susceptible to damage that “can cause them to strand themselves onshore.”
The linked AP article quotes Justice Stephen Breyer’s response to balancing these interests [emphasis supplied]:
“You are asking us who know nothing about whales and less about the military to start reading all these documents to try to figure out who’s right in the case where the other side says the other side is totally unreasonable.”
Quote of the Day, folks.