Ruling Could Affect Sonar Plans In N.C.

A federal judge in California says the Navy must follow environmental laws placing strict limits on sonar training. That ruling could impact the Navy's plans to build a sonar range off the North Carolina Coast.

Environmentalists have fought the use of sonar in court, saying
it harms whales and other marine mammals. Nearly three dozen whales beached themselves on the beaches of Dare County in January 2005. Environmentalists say, Navy sonar testing confused the whales and led to their deaths.

President Bush signed a waiver recently exempting the Navy and its anti-submarine warfare exercises from a preliminary injunction creating a 12-nautical-mile no-sonar zone off Southern California. The new ruling says the Navy must follow the laws in place.

An attorney for the National Resources Defense Council calls the judge's ruling "an excellent decision." A White House spokesman
disagreed saying the president's orders were legal and appropriate.

The Navy is studying the environmental impact of creating a sonar range off the coast of Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville. The ruling that environmental laws take precedence could affect the Navy's plans in North Carolina.

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