It's bound to be overlooked by the media at-large in large part due to the Iowa caucuses, but a court ruling that burdens the U.S. Navy with yet another environmentally-driven restriction was handed down from a federal district court judge yesterday. That judge, the Hon. Florence-Marie Cooper, is a Clinton appointee, a fact unreported by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Robert McClure (emphasis mine):

A federal judge forbade the Navy on Thursday from using a powerful form of sonar within 12 miles of the California coast and slapped other restrictions on naval war exercises in a ruling that could have repercussions in the Pacific Northwest.

U.S. District Judge Florence Marie-Cooper [sic] said noise from the Navy's midfrequency sonar far outstrips levels at which federal rules require ear protection for humans on the job. Whales' hearing is extremely sensitive.

"The court is persuaded that the (protection) scheme proposed by the Navy is grossly inadequate to protect marine mammals from debilitating levels of sonar exposure," Marie-Cooper wrote in her ruling.

The Navy offered to reduce the sonar's intensity when whales approached within about 1,100 yards and power down further before shutting the sonar off when the creatures got within 200 yards. The judge ordered sonar shut off when marine mammals are within 2,200 yards.