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Monday, September 10, 2012 - 8:48am

Judge Approves Navy Testing Near Whales

Updated: 4 years ago.
Right whales are one of the most endangered species on the planet. Their interactions with the Navy have been the subject of a court fight for years. (photo NOAA)

A federal judge says the Navy can build a $100 million offshore training range for submarine warfare despite environmentalists' concerns that it would threaten endangered right whales.

U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood ruled the Navy took a "hard look" before concluding risks to whales would be minimal off the coast of southern Georgia and northern Florida, where the whales migrate each winter to give birth.

The decision Thursday cited case law saying judges should give "great deference" to the military regarding training.

The Southern Environmental Law Center sued the Navy in 2010, saying the range would threaten right whales with ship strikes, entanglement with parachutes and possible harm from sonar.

Environmentalists asked the Navy to suspend training during calving season. The judge says the Navy "rationally rejected" that option.