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Whales can’t sue

Last month I wrote about scientists who accuse offshore oil companies of accidentally killing giant squid with blasts of incredibly powerful, 200-decibel sonar. It turns out that Lanny Sinkin, a Hawaiian environmental lawyer, was equally worried about the US’s military sonar hurting many other marine animals, such as whales or dolphins.

But Sinkin decided to do something rather remarkable: To let the whales take on the government themselves. So he initiated a lawsuit that pitted actual whales against Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush. Yesterday, ninth circuit judge William A. Fletcher decided that whales lack the standing necessary to sue:

We are asked to decide whether the world’s cetaceans have standing to bring suit in their own name under the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. We hold that cetaceans do not have standing under these statutes.

There’s a PDF of the decision online here. Man, this reads like something from a David Foster Wallace novel.

(Thanks to Boing Boing for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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