Published: Oct 28, 2010 8:53 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 28, 2010 5:53 PM EDT

MIAMI (AP) - An appeals court says a federal judge cannot order the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to testify in a lawsuit over Everglades clean-up efforts.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled Thursday that District Judge Alan Gold of Miami overstepped his authority when he ordered EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to testify at an upcoming hearing.

Gold had rejected Jackson's offer to have an assistant administrator testify.

The appeals court majority said specific executive branch members cannot be forced to testify unless there is compelling reason. The justices did not see such a reason in this case.

Gold has threatened the EPA with contempt, saying it has ignored Clean Water Act requirements in the Everglades.