Kyle Barnett Dec. 4, 2013, 5:18pm

NEW ORLEANS – A local flood protection authority will meet to decide whether to continue pursuing an historic lawsuit against 97 oil companies alleging damage of the state’s wetlands.

The meeting is scheduled for Dec. 5 at 2:30 p.m. and will take place at the Franklin Administrative Complex at 6920 Franklin Ave. in New Orleans.

The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) is expected to reconsider its support for a lawsuit the authority initiated in July that sought repairs to coastal lands the agency alleges have been damaged by oil companies operating in the state.

The lawsuit claims that land loss and saltwater intrusion that Louisiana has suffered is connected to canals dredged in the wetlands as part of oil exploration and drilling operations. Repairs to the wetlands are estimated to cost billions of dollars.

Since the lawsuit was initiated, numerous politicians have come out against the SLFPA-E’s actions and numerous members of the state appointed board have been replaced, including the lawsuit’s most vocal proponent - SLFPA-E former chairman John Barry.

Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, has called the lawsuit a blatant extortion attempt by greedy trial lawyers and singled out the lead attorney representing the SLFPA-E.

“Mr. Gladstone Jones, the lawyer representing the Flood Authority, said with his own mouth in the New York Times that the plaintiffs would be seeking damages equal to ‘many billions of dollars. Many, many billions of dollars,’” he said.

Meanwhile founder Sandy Rosenthal sent out an email earlier today asking the group's supporters to oppose.

“It's critical that we continue to show our support for the Big Oil Lawsuit,” Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal also asked supporters to send emails to Garret Graves, current chairman of the SFLPA-E, and Tim Doody, of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, requesting the matter be allowed to be decided in court.

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