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Humpback whale © Mike Parry/


NRDC Sues to Protect Whales from deadly Sonar

housands of marine mammals, including a significant

for ensuring that the Navy obeys our nation’s environmental

number of endangered whale species, will be at dire

laws and protects threatened and endangered marine

risk if the Navy is allowed to deploy a lethal type of

mammals. “There are commonsense measures the Navy

high-intensity sonar across a majority of the world’s oceans.

can take to protect whales without compro­mising military

NRDC has hauled the Navy into federal court to block

readiness — the courts have agreed with that before,”

the assault. Low-frequency

says Zak Smith, attorney with

active sonar (LFA) is known

NRDC’s Marine Mammal

to injure and potentially kill

Protection Project, noting the

marine mammals. It unleashes

landmark legal victories we

an onslaught of noise that is

won in both 2003 and 2008 to

100 times louder than the level

rein in the Navy’s use of LFA

that disturbs gray whales more

sonar. “The Navy’s needless

than 300 miles away. At

assault on whales cannot

close proximity, it can cause

go unchallenged.”

permanent hearing loss, organ failure and death.

Humpback whale.

On a related front, the Navy is planning con­struction of a

Even though the Navy acknowledges these outsize risks,

500-square-mile undersea warfare training range off the

it’s still charging ahead with a plan to deploy LFA across

coast of Jacksonville, Florida, which is adjacent to the only

a staggering 70 to 75 percent of the world’s oceans. More

known calving ground for endangered North Atlantic right

shocking, the plan has been approved by the National

whales, a potentially significant blow to the meager

Marine Fisheries Service — the very agency responsible

population of 300 to 400 whales estimated to remain.

New Forecast for U.S. Solar Energy Development: Sunny


Tortoise © ZSSD/

t’s good news for our nation’s push toward sustainable energy: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has authorized an unprecedented plan to create 17 solar energy zones covering nearly 280,000 acres of public land in the Southwest. “This is an historic milestone for the development of clean, renewable solar energy in the United States,” says Bobby McEnaney, deputy director of NRDC’s Western Renewable Energy Project.


The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which authored the plan, had originally proposed opening up a staggering 80 million acres to solar development across six Southwestern states. So why is the reduction of acreage a good thing? “Developing our renewable resources is vital to breaking our dependence on dirty sources of energy,” McEnaney says. “But we have to remember that when we talk about generating significant amounts of energy from the sun, part of that equation is large, utility-scale projects, and they have to be sited responsibly.” McEnaney and his NRDC colleagues worked alongside other environ­mental groups to develop criteria that

would identify sites best suited for solar development. Then they submitted their recommendations to BLM and helped shape the creation of the new solar Desert tortoise, California. program. “The bureau originally took a scatter­shot approach,” says McEnaney. “They were, quite literally, all over the map.” During the four-year process, NRDC helped BLM focus on sites that have the best commercial potential while still protecting wildlife and fragile desert ecosystems. “Based on current Department of Energy projections,” McEnaney notes, “17 solar energy zones on 280,000 acres is enough land to produce the clean energy we’ll need for the foreseeable future.”

Nature's Voice Winter 2013  

All of the environmental projects and victories described in Nature’s Voice are made possible through the generous support of Members like y...

Nature's Voice Winter 2013  

All of the environmental projects and victories described in Nature’s Voice are made possible through the generous support of Members like y...