Judge hears arguments in oil industry lawsuit

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Lawyers are arguing in a New Orleans courtroom about whether a Plaquemines Parish lawsuit against oil companies over coastal damage belongs in state or federal court.

U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey is presiding in the case. His decision will likely indicate whether a series of such lawsuits filed by Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes will be tried in state court or federal court.

Originally filed in state courts, the suits allege a variety of environmental law violations, including operating waste pits without permits and dredging canals without getting permits or using techniques to prevent erosion and encroachment of salt water from the Gulf of Mexico.

The parishes want the cases tried in state district courts.

The oil companies argue the federal court has jurisdiction.

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