The U.S. Navy intends to use a variety of new weapons technologies and techniques off the East and West coasts of the US that will likely cause irreparable harm to a variety of marine life in affected areas. The exercise will reportedly include “shock and awe” bomb blasts, live-fire weapons testing, sonar, lasers, missile exercises, and electromagnetic weapons testing.
The Navy applied to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for permits to “take” marine mammals in the Northwest Training and Testing (NWTT) Range Complex, which includes Northern California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Although “take” sounds benign, under the Endangered Species Act the term means that such animals may be harassed, harmed, pursued, hunted, shot, killed, trapped, or captured.
The Navy appears to be seeking to begin weapons testing programs as secretively as possible. At the same time, activists say NOAA has allowed insufficient time for public comment on the Navy’s applications.
The applications to NOAA were issued on December 18, 2013, one month before the Navy’s 2,000-page NWTT Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was available for public comment on January 18, 2014. The public comment period issued by NOAA to consider the two 300-page applications and the Navy’s immense EIS closed on February 28, 2014.
Rosalind Peterson, director of the Agricultural Defense Coalition, has sought to petition US congresspersons to require an extension of the time for public comment on the measures from 30 to 60 days, the period allotted under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Rosalind Peterson, “US Navy Escalates Warfare Testing in the Pacific, Atlantic, & Gulf of Mexico in 2013 & 2014,” Agricultural Defense Coalition, February 2014, http://www.agriculturedefensecoalition.org/content/us-navy-new.
“Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; US Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing Study Area,” Federal Register, December 24, 2013, https://federalregister.gov/a/2013-30245.
David Wagner, “Navy Expects to Kill Hundreds of Dolphins and Whales,” KPBS, August 30, 2013, http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/aug/30/navy-says-its-probably-about-bomb-hundreds-dolph/.
Student Researcher: Betzabeth Badell (Florida Atlantic University)
Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)