U.S. Supreme Court Allow Navy Sonar Exercises to Continue

Findlaw has posted today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling concerning Navy Exercises and the need for an EIR. The opinion opens as follows:

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” 1 Messages and Papers of the Presidents 57 (J. Richardson comp. 1897). So said George Washington in his first Annual Address to Congress, 218 years ago. One of the most important ways the Navy prepares for war is through integrated training exercises at sea. These exercises include training in the use of modern sonar to detect and track enemy submarines, something the Navy has done for the past 40 years. The plaintiffs complained that the Navy’s sonar training program harmed marine mammals, and that the Navy should have prepared an environmental impact statement before commencing its latest round of training exercises. The Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction imposing restrictions on the Navy’s sonar training, even though that court acknowledged that “the record contains no evidence that marine mammals have been harmed” by the Navy’s exercises. 518 F. 3d 658, 696 (CA9 2008).

The Court of Appeals was wrong, and its decision is reversed.

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