Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

China, sonar and save the whales

Environment, United States, War 

Free (From) Willy

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, November 13, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Environmentalism: The Supreme Court rules that an endangered country trumps an endangered species. The U.S. Navy can now defend the U.S. against an enemy attack that would really ruin the environment.

Environmentalists want to save the whales so badly they're willing to put the U.S. at risk to save them. They found friends in the courts, and judges bent on protecting Shamu from a possible earache from active sonar used to detect enemy submarines. These judges had imposed severe restrictions on anti-submarine training and testing exercises off the California coast.

In its first ruling of the 2008-2009 term, the Supreme Court by a 6-3 majority has ruled that threats to national security are more important than threats to whales.

"Forcing the Navy to deploy an inadequately trained anti-submarine force jeopardizes the safety of the fleet," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. And it jeopardizes the American people.

The damage to the Navy and the public interest, Roberts said, outweighs any potential injury that environmentalists say are caused by active sonar "to an unknown number of marine mammals that they study and observe."

The court said lower courts had given too little weight to the Navy's concerns about harm to national security.

Recently the National Resources Defense Council and other green groups got Judge Florence Marie-Cooper of the Federal District Court in Los Angeles to rule that there was a "near certainty" of harm to whales, and that the Navy couldn't use sonar when marine mammals came within 1.25 miles of a Navy warship or near the Catalina Basin, where whales congregate.

Southern California is ideal for naval anti-submarine training because the island channels off its coast resemble the naval conditions in the Straits of Hormuz that Iran has threatened to close, and through which much of the world's oil passes.

Roberts agreed with the Navy that requiring that sonar be shut off whenever a marine mammal is spotted within 2,200 yards of a Navy ship and reduced by 75% when conditions in which underwater sound is amplified impairs realistic training under combat conditions.

Judges must defer to these expert assessments, Roberts said, especially because the Navy has used active sonar for 40 years in anti-submarine training off the Channel Islands and nearby coastal areas "with no documented episode of harm to a marine mammal."

No conclusive study has ever shown active sonar to be a factor in the beaching of whales, as alleged. In a 2003 incident in Washington State, three whales were found to have had illnesses, two had suffered blunt-force trauma and the others were too decomposed to tell. But there was no evidence active sonar was a factor.

As Edwin J. Feulner of the Heritage Foundation points out, the Navy says that at least 40 countries have submarines that may be quiet enough to escape traditional sonar systems.

The Chinese are adding 2.5 new subs each year to their fleet, and the Chinese may have more subs than we do with decades old passive sonar that may have worked well on the noisy clunkers of World War II, which, noisy as they were, nearly starved Britain into submission.

But against today's modern submarines it is virtually useless. Today's subs, nuclear or diesel, are virtually invisible to passive sonar.

Environmentalists ignore that missiles fired from enemy submarines will harm the environment more than the sonar used to detect them. Or that training is what keeps the U.S. armed forces the best in the world, and our enemies at bay, while saving U.S. lives.

Preserving the convenience of whales, or even the lives of whales, is not worth the risk of losing one ship full of American sailors, let alone an entire American city.

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