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Can the Navy train in SoCal waters without harming whales?

by AirTalk®

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Bottlenose dolphins swim ahead of the bow of a boat off the southern California coast on January 30, 2012 near Dana Point, California. David McNew/Getty Images

Tomorrow, the California Coastal Commission will hear details of underwater exercises proposed by the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet. The Navy wants to increase the number of training activities off the coast of Camp Pendleton and San Diego.

Environmental advocacy groups warn that sound waves of sonars cause deadly harm to marine mammals. The fight over the issue has gone on for years. In 2008, the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled against the Navy's use of sonar, but later the Supreme Court overturned that decision. The Navy says it mitigates against harm by keeping watch for whales, then pausing testing as necessary. Environmental groups say it's impossible to watch for whales at night or to protect against the millions of sonar strobes and detonations.

A few months ago, the California Coastal Commission rejected a request for offshore seismic testing proposed by Pacific Gas & Electric. The board said PG&E could not go ahead without minimizing environmental impacts.

What's the best way to minimize harm while maintaining military readiness?

Michael Jasny, Director, Marine Mammal Project, Natural Resources Defense Council

Alex Stone, Environmental Program Manager, U.S. Pacific Fleet

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