LFA Sonar: executive orders trump marine conservation

I’ve been at this for a while (see here, here and here). Seems President Bush always has the taking-the-ball-home-with-him approach to Democracy in his back pocket.

President Bush exempted the Navy from an environmental law so it can continue using sonar in its anti-submarine warfare training off the California coast – a practice critics say is harmful to whales and other marine mammals.

The Associated Press should bloody well know that it is not critics alone who make such a claim: by all accounts everyone accepts the damage. Some people just don’t care.

Looks as though is yet not the end of the affair (which is, of course, good):

The decision drew immediate criticism from environmentalists who had fought to stop the Navy’s sonar training.

“The president’s action is an attack on the rule of law,” said Joel Reynolds, director of the Marine Mammal Protection Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “By exempting the Navy from basic safeguards under both federal and state law, the president is flouting the will of Congress, the decision of the California Coastal Commission and a ruling by the federal court.”

NRDC spokesman Daniel Hinerfeld said the group would be filing papers with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later Wednesday or Thursday to challenge Bush’s exemption.

This idea of an “attack on the rule of law”. In a previous post, I discussed those rules and laws. Specifically, here is a section of the law (the Marine Mammal Protection Act, among others) that Bush is attacking:

The Congress finds that —

  1. certain species and population stocks of marine mammals are, or may be, in danger of extinction or depletion as a result of man’s activities;
  2. such species and population stocks should not be permitted to diminish beyond the point at which they cease to be a significant functioning element in the ecosystem of which they are a part, and, consistent with this major objective, they should not be permitted to diminish below their optimum sustainable population.

Further measures should be immediately taken to replenish any species or population stock which has already diminished below that population. In particular, efforts should be made to protect essential habitats, including the rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance for each species of marine mammal from the adverse effect of man’s actions;

I would remind you that, as a law, this passed both houses of the legislative branch of government, plus the executive branch (of it’s day, although amendments subsequent to that have also passed). That one Executive Order from one dry-drunk dodgily-elected president can even be supposed to be able to undo such is kind of embarrassing. That’s not really big-d Democracy, you know.

Here’s a reminder of the effect:

I should think almost anyone living in a city can appreciate how many millions of miles they are from truly understanding the pain this must cause an innocent mammal (just thought I’d throw that in). It most certainly affects more than ‘just’ whales, too.


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