Court Ruling In Whale Case Good News For National Security

Assumed Environmental Threats Should Not Trump Real Military Ones, Says NCPA's Burnett


DALLAS (September 7, 2007) - The Navy can once again perform planned mid-frequency active sonar exercises, thanks to a ruling last week by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that an expert with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) calls "a victory for national security."  The court removed an injunction from a lower court that had prevented the Navy from performing the exercises while a lawsuit from environmentalists concerned over sonar's impact on whales was pending. 

"National defense is a core function of and a primary justification for national government," said H. Sterling Burnett.  "National security trumps environmental law, particularly when the lawsuit in question does not even offer any proof that the Navy is placing animals in real danger."

In March, the Natural Resources Defense Council and five other groups sued the Navy to stop the sonar, which they claim will damage marine mammals' brains and ears.  They also claim the low-level sonar can block the whales' ability to navigate, find food and avoid predators.  The Navy disputes this claim.

"When there is proof that sonar levels used have a great impact on endangered or threatened species and are in violation of environmental law such as the Endangered Species Act, then a thorough evaluation should be done," said Burnett.  "But for now, let the government protect its people, as it has promised to do to the best of its abilities.  Concerns for endangered species, however noble, should not be allowed to jeopardize the safety of our nation or its defenders."