NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New Navy Sonar Blocked by Environmentalists

October 15, 2003

The military has agreed to limit the Navy's use of a new sonar system that environmental groups claim hurts marine life. Research conducted by independent marine biologists found that risk of injury is confined to small areas near the vessels that emit the sonar. But the Navy will confine testing of the new system to areas of the Pacific off Asia.

The Navy is free to use the system in times of war, but without adequate testing and training, its effectiveness could be compromised, warns Investor's Business Daily.

This isn't the first time that the military has caved in to unfounded or exaggerated environmental concerns, says IBD. For instance:

  • At Camp Pendleton in Southern California, Marines training for amphibious assaults hit the beach, then board a bus that take them elsewhere on the base where they finish the assault in order not upset the gnatcatcher, a small gray songbird.
  • Other parts of Camp Pendleton are off-limits because of the presence of the endangered tidewater goby, the microscopic fairy shrimp and rare plants.
  • In Texas, 200,000 acres of training grounds in Fort Hood cannot be used because of the presence of a couple of endangered species.

Then there was the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, where pilots trained by dropping live bombs; it was closed partly because of environmental concerns. Observers say that in these and other cases, environmental concerns are being allowed to outweigh U.S. national security needs.

Source: Editorial, "The Beast Lobby," Investor's Business Daily, October 15, 2003.


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