They're an agency with their own institutional integrity. No doubt NOAA -- like other agencies -- can bend. But here the Navy is asking them to snap.

Ocean noise is an insidious form of pollution. The tremendous damage it is doing to life in the sea is becoming more evident with each passing year.

It is a set of symptoms that have never before been seen in marine mammals. That physical evidence has led scientists to understand that the sonar is injuring the whales in addition to causing them to strand.

What the NOAA letter does is confirm that the Navy analysis is fundamentally flawed.

It's clear the Navy didn't even consider environmental factors until after they chose North Carolina. Because of the potential environmental impacts of concentrating so much sonar activity in this area, and because it would become a model, it is essential that they get it right the first time.

It's yet another layer of environmental impact that offshore oil exploration involves. From cradle to grave, oil and gas hits the environment.

It's time for the Navy to stop this needless infliction of harm.

The investigation has produced hard evidence of the connection to sound--like seeing a bullet wound, but needing to identify the shooter. In light of today's findings, it's incumbent on navies and on industry to divulge what activities they were conducting in the area.