• Supreme Court Overturns Preliminary Injunction Against Navy's Use of Mid-Frequency Active Sonar
  • December 12, 2008 | Authors: Edward C. Lewis; Andrew Torrant; Avery Carson
  • Law Firm: Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. - Houston Office
  • On November 12, 2008, the United States Supreme Court issued the first decision in a string of environmental cases set in the 2008 October Term - a decision which allows the U.S. Navy to resume and continue the use of mid-frequency active ("MFA") sonar in naval training exercises. See Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 555 U.S. ___, No. 07-1239, slip op. (U.S. Nov. 12, 2008) (Roberts, CJ) (hereinafter "slip op."). Active sonar, which emits pulses of sound underwater and then receives the acoustic waves that echo off the target, is the most effective tool for identifying submerged diesel-electric submarines that threaten the Navy's fleet. However, plaintiffs claimed that such sonar causes serious injuries to the 37 species of marine mammals in the waters off the coast of Southern California, the ideal location for the naval exercises.