17 January 2008

Think Bush Is a Pro-Animal Environmentalist? Think Again!

According to this AP Newswire issued yesterday: "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. . . . A federal judge in Los Angeles had issued a preliminary injunction earlier this month requiring the Navy to create a 12-nautical-mile, no-sonar zone along the California coast and to post trained lookouts to watch for marine mammals before and during exercises. Sonar would have to be shut down when mammals are spotted within 2,200 yards, under the order.
The court found that using mid-frequency active sonar violated the Coastal Zone Management Act and Bush exempted the Navy from a section of that act. . . . Critics contend sonar has harmful effects on whales, possibly by damaging their hearing, and other marine mammals worldwide. The National Resources Defense Council's lawsuit alleges the Navy's sonar causes whales and other mammals to beach themselves."

The NRDC's press release in response to the Bush administration's actions can be found here.
For more information about the effect of sonar on marine mammals, see the NRDC's extremely comprehensive report: “Sounding the Depths II: The Rising Toll of Sonar, Shipping and Industrial Ocean Noise on Marine Life.”

More information about Bush's decision to allow the Navy to conduct sonar exercises and the impact these exercises will have on whales and other aquatic mammals can be found in this Washington Post column and also in dot.earth's recent post "The White House and the Whales."

Last week, I linked to a dot.earth post on Japan's whaling industry which reported that, under intensifying pressure from Australia and the United States, Japan put off plans to kill 50 humpback whales this year but still intends to kill up to 935 minke whales (a small and relatively abundant species) and 50 finbacks (the second largest whale) as part of a "scientific research project". Why does the Bush administration think that it is wrong for the Japanese to kill whales but permissible for the U.S. Navy to do so? If you care about the well-being of aquatic mammals, contact your Senators and Congresspersons and urge them to outlaw the Navy's coastal sonar exercises.

Note from KBJ: I'm surprised by your title, Mylan. Whoever thought President Bush was a pro-animal environmentalist? People like Adolf Hitler are pro-animal environmentalists! The point, of course, is that there is no necessary connection between (1) a person's attitude toward animals or the environment and (2) his or her normative political theory. You and I, for example, share a concern for animals, but I'm a conservative and you're a progressive.