Environmentalists appeal Florida water ruling

Argue loopholes undermine stricter protections

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Environmentalists are appealing a federal judge's approval of Florida's water pollution rules.

In January, a federal judge in Tallahassee ruled that state and federal authorities could move ahead with an agreement that allows Florida to take the lead in writing and enforcing water pollution rules.

Environmental groups argued that the state rules had loopholes and that the ruling meant that stricter federal Clean Water Act protections would not apply to two-thirds of Florida waters.

The nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice filed an appeal Thursday in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. In a statement, Earthjustice attorney David Guest says the state and federal agreement is "doing the bidding of the big polluters and selling out the public."

State environmental and agriculture officials hailed the Jan. 7 decision.

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