An administrative law judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Ogeechee Riverkeeper over a massive fish kill last year.
The non-profit sought to overturn an agreement between state officials and a textile mill.
The Riverkeeper says, the fish kill harmed its members and therefore the organization has a right to be involved in action against polluter, King America textiles.
But the judge ruled, they have no right to bring a case on the Ogeechee River.
Riverkeeper attorney Donald Stack says, the ruling is locking citizens out of the decision-making process.
"It's very disheartening to have an opinion out there that says that those people who most affected by an action taken by a polluter and by the state are left to not have any seat at the table," Stack says.
Stack says, the closed-door contributes to cynicism about the judicial system.
"Here's a prime example of how you sit there and you have these arrangement being made between companies and those entities that are supposed to regulate them, and the public is locked out of that," Stack says.
The Riverkeeper plans to appeal the decision to a higher court.
The May fish kill was the largest in Georgia history, leaving 38,000 dead fish in the black-water river.
State environmental officials are proposing making King America pay for $1 million in yet-unnamed river improvement projects.