Here's a longer article on all the legal ins-and-outs of the issue. I wish I could show you the print version which has boxes of the timeline and a summary of the points of contention, along with a map of the area.
The training missions are between the naval base in San Diego and the island of Catalina, and points beyond. My assumption is that being near the naval base and the unusal conditions of the island, etc. are why they want this particular bit of ocean.
I find it incredibly arrogant of Bush to think he can rush in at the last minute and suspend the rule of law that been worked out over time.
Oct. 30, 2006
Navy submits plans to California Coastal Commision.
Jan. 10, 2007 The CC instructs the Navy to take additional steps to protect marine mammals
Feb. 12, 2007 The Navy declines to take additional safeguards.
Mar. 22, 2007 The CC and environmental groups file lawsuits
Aug. 7, 2007 Preliminary injunction issued against Navy
Aug. 31, 2007 Appeals court sets aside injunction, pending appeal
Nov. 13, 2007 Appellate judges reinstate injunction but instruct judge to spell out specific measures the Navy must take so it can hold the exercises.
Jan. 3, 2008 Narrowed injunction bans sonar use within 12 nautical miles of the coast and requires extensive monitoring for marine mammals and prompt shutdown of sonar if whales or other mammals come with 2,200 yards.
Jan. 15, 2008 President Bush and the White House Council on Environmental Quality move to exempt the Navy's exercises from the Coastal Zone Management Act and the National Environmental Proection Act. Justice Department lawyers file an emergency motion with U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, asking it to lift the injunction against the Navy exercises.
Jan. 16 The appeals court sends case back to lower court.