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Court Upholds Permits For Sugar Growers

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) --  An appeals court upheld decisions meant to allow sugar-cane growers to get permits, rejecting arguments the permits would not properly protect the Everglades.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal issued a 17-page ruling on Friday that backed the South Florida Water Management District's decisions in 2012 to issue permits that regulate the discharge of phosphorus in water that flows into the Everglades.

In 2014, an administrative law judge also rejected Florida Audubon's arguments and said the permits should be issued to U.S. Sugar Corp., Sugar Farms Co-Op and Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida.

The environmental group contended that the permits violated a law known as the Everglades Forever Act because they did not require additional water-quality measures and because the growers' discharges contributed to ongoing water-quality problems in an Everglades protection area, according to Friday's ruling. But the appeals court gave a detailed analysis of the history of Everglades protection efforts and laws in upholding the district's permitting decisions.

(The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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