Angering environmentalists, the us Defense Department has exempted the Navy from complying with the Marine Mammal Protection Act for the next two years. The Navy contended that it needs the exemption, allowed under the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act, to have enough time to conduct environmental impact statements for sonar use at major underwater training ranges off Hawaii, southern California and at the East Coast.
The two-year extension will, however, allow the us Navy and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration to continue studying mid-frequency active sonar use and a new sensor that uses small explosive charges. Environmentalists say the underwater sound waves have deadly effects on marine mammals like whales and dolphins. They also cite incidents of marine mammals that have died or been stranded en masse on beaches after being exposed to sonar.