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Bush Exempts Navy From Enviro Law

LOS ANGELES (CN) - President Bush on Tuesday signed an order exemptingthe Navy from environmental law so it can continue using high-powered sonar off the coast of Southern California, a practice that apparently hurts whales and other marine mammals. A federal judge here enjoined the sonar this month in a whale migration corridor, and the 9th Circuit is scheduled to hear the Navy's appeal on Friday.

It is difficult to say what effect Bush's order will have on the district court injunction. Bush signed it Tuesday while traveling in the Middle East. On Wednesday afternoon, the 9th Circuit sent the injunction back to the U.S. Central District Court here for reconsideration.

Attorneys for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which sought the injunction, called Bush's order "an attack on the rule of law."

Peter Douglas, executive director of the California Coastal Commission, which joined the NRDC in suing, told The Associated Press he was "not surprised at all" by Bush's order. "It's typical for this Republican administration to ignore environmental protections under the banner of fear," Douglas said.

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