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Happy Dolphins, Grumpy Navy

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Yesterday the National Resources Defense Council and the California Coastal Commission celebrated a new court order against the Navy in a case over the use of sonar in training exercises. US District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper imposed a series of detailed restrictions on current Navy training practices. The Navy is in the habit of using sonar, which can be devastating to marine mammals, in a migration corridor.

The judge, who has made clear her intent to balance the needs of national security and the environment, wrote that the Navy's practices, unchecked, "will cause widespread harm to nearly 30 species of marine mammals, including five species of endangered whales and may cause permanent injury and death."

The California Coastal Commission, a state agency that joined the original lawsuit brought by the NRDC, was pleased with the ruling. Executive Director Peter Douglas told the LA Times, "We know there are things that the Navy can do to protect marine mammals while they conduct their exercises, but the Navy refused. The court said, 'No, you have to comply.'"

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The LA Times reports, somewhat ominously, that "Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a Navy spokesman, said the Navy is considering its options."