Thursday, July 9, 2015

Big legal showdown tomorrow over NJ-Exxon settlement

The courtroom is expected to be jammed tomorrow as numerous New Jersey environmental groups and State Senator Ray Lesniak go to battle with the Christie Administration over the state's proposed settlement of longstanding environmental damages caused by ExxonMobil refineries, tank farms and gas stations. 

A Superior Court judge sitting in Burlington County will hear lawyers from the state Attorney General's office and from ExxonMobil argue why the senator and green groups should not be permitted to challenge the proposed settlement.

Here's a piece of Tom Johnson's story on the controversy that ran today in NJ Spotlight with additional coverage below:
In the past few days, the company and the New Jersey DEP have tried to block environmental groups and a prominent state lawmaker from intervening in the case to resolve the decade-old litigation.
The proposed settlement would require Exxon to pay $225 million arising from a natural-resources damage claim filed against the company by the Department of Environmental Protection, which initially sought $8.9 billion in damages. The tentative agreement has drawn intense criticism from legislators and environmentalists.
Yesterday, Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) filed a legal brief with the court, challenging efforts to prevent him from intervening in the case. The court will hear arguments on this issue tomorrow. The proposed settlement must be approved by the court. 
“Obviously, the administration and Exxon Mobil don’t want me to intervene in the case because I want to prevent them from settling for a fraction of the damage to the environment,’’ Lesniak said. “The people of New Jersey should not be left out of this case.’’
In its own briefs, the state argued the intervention by the environmental groups and Lesniak is unwarranted and would “serve to complicate and lengthen an already old and legally complex case.’’
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