Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Christie's $225M Exxon settlement wins judge's approval

A state judge Tuesday approved a controversial $225 million settlement negotiated between ExxonMobil and the Christie administration related to decades of extensive pollution at two of the oil giant’s former refineries in Linden and Bayonne and other sites around the state, James M. O'Neill reported this afternoon for The Record.

The settlement had drawn intense criticism from both environmentalists and Democrats in the state legislature because it was so much smaller than the nearly $9 billion the state had originally sought when it first filed the case in 2004 during the McGreevey administration.

“After giving considerable time and thought to its task,” Superior Court Judge Michael Hogan wrote in his decision, “the court finds that the proposed consent judgment is fair, reasonable, in the public interest, and consistent with the goals of the Spill Compensation and Control Act,” the state law under which the state had originally sued Exxon.

The settlement also covers natural resource damages at 15 smaller sites, including a Teterboro fuel tank farm, as well as nearly 1,800 gas stations, that were not originally part of the case.
Several environmental groups vowed to appeal the decision to the appellate division.

“Exxon’s massive damage to New Jersey’s environment couldn’t have been more clear,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey.

“Today’s decision by the Court sadly rubberstamps the Christie Administration’s sell-out settlement. This settlement still stinks. The disregard of a generation of pollution at hundreds of Exxon facilities around the state is a slap in the face to New Jersey. Exxon has created a legacy of pollution and public health risks in our state, and we will be taking further legal action to hold the Christie Administration accountable.”

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