Thursday, July 30, 2015

Judge denies stay in Exxon-NJ deal; will rule in weeks

The Christie administration and ExxonMobil Corp. on Thursday urged a state judge to approve a settlement New Jersey has reached with the oil giant over contamination claims, arguing the accord would bring much-needed resolution to a decade of litigation, Andrew Seidman reports for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Environmental groups and legislative Democrats have protested the deal, which was announced in April, and tried to stop it in court.

Superior Court Judge Michael Hogan said Thursday he would deny the groups' motion for a stay of his decision, saying they hadn't demonstrated substantial or irreparable harm. Hogan, sitting in Burlington County Superior Court, said he'd issue his decision on the settlement near the end of August.

He previously ruled that environmental groups and State Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak (D., Union) could not intervene in the case.

"This is a fair and reasonable settlement," Acting Attorney General John Hoffman told the judge.

The case stems from Exxon's decades-long contamination of more than a thousand acres of land at two of its facilities in North Jersey. At trial last year, the state sought $8.9 billion in natural resources damages. Exxon had already agreed to remediate the sites.

Attorneys for the environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, charged in court filings that the state "would surrender more than 98 percent" of its initial claim under the settlement "and release Exxon from natural-resource damage liabilities at hundreds of other sites and other laws - without committing a cent to restoring and replacing resources."

The settlement also covers contamination at gas stations and 16 other sites, including one in Paulsboro

Read the full story here  

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