Environmentalists are suing the feds over new salmon rules that give local and state governments more leeway in deciding how to protect the fish in the Northwest and California. The National Marine Fisheries Service in June released rules that offer exemptions from federal regulations to state and local governments that adopt their own, NMFS-approved salmon protection plans. NMFS says this approach is the best way to cut red tape and move forward on salmon protection, but enviros contend that it lets the feds go light on local governments and industry. In particular, they are protesting an exemption being granted to Washington state for a plan trying to balance protection of streambeds with the interests of timber companies. Meanwhile, Northwest senators are criticizing the feds’ proposed long-term salmon recovery plan as vague and costly.