A Superior Court judge on Monday denied attempts by a coalition of environmental groups and a Democratic state lawmaker to intervene in a pollution settlement between Gov. Chris Christie's administration and Exxon Mobil, S. P. Sullivan writes today in NJ.com.
The decision comes as the judge prepares to rule on the $225 million deal, which administration officials have defended as the largest of its kind in New Jersey history.
Critics, including state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Union) and a collection of environmental groups, have slammed the deal because at trial, the state had claimed it was owed $8.9 billion as compensation for Exxon's decades of pollution at two North Jersey refineries.
They filed two separate motions to intervene in the case last month, seeking to become parties to the suit.
Writing that such a move would "unduly delay" the conclusion of the decade-old lawsuit, Judge Michael Hogan ruled the groups had not proven the state Department of Environmental Protection had abandoned their obligation to serve the public interest, as they had argued in court on Friday.
In order to intervene, they would have had to have shown attorneys for the state had colluded with Exxon in drafting the deal, which resolves much of Exxon's liability for contamination at more than a dozen industrial sites and hundreds of gas stations around the state.
But the parties, "have done nothing to overcome the presumption of adequate representation that arises when they share the same ultimate goal with an original party." Hogan wrote. "They have not demonstrated collusion, nonfeasance, or lack of notice of the opportunity for public comments."
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