Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Despite no-cut promise, Christie clips enviro cleanup funds

Gotcha? Christie quietly cuts enviro-restoration funds from budget 

Scott Fallon reports for The Record:


Gov. Chris Christie quietly took language out of the state budget that would have ensured millions of dollars from legal settlements with polluters would go to environmental restoration instead of being diverted to other areas, officials confirmed Wednesday.

After a tense budget impasse that saw the state government shut down for three days, Christie used his line-item veto early Tuesday to strike language that dedicated half of environmental settlements to “remediation, restoration, and clean up.”

The move could have significant consequences for a $225 million state settlement with Exxon Mobil Corp. that could be approved by a judge this fall. Under the budget that was signed by Christie, only $50 million would go to a state fund used to restore land and water that have been affected by hazardous waste.

The veto also follows a pattern by Christie, who had diverted almost $300 million from polluters of the Passaic River in recent years to the general fund.


Above is the Bayway Refinery in Linden, once owned by Exxon. (Photo: northjersey.com file photo)














Environmentalists and state Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, Environmentalists and state Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, are challenging the $225 million settlement between the Christie administration and Exxon Mobil over pollution in Linden and Bayonne that environmentalists say falls far short of the original $8.9 billion the state sought.

Christie, a Republican, had said he would not use his line-item veto to take money out of the Democrats' budget if he was able to sign legislation that restructured the state's biggest medical insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield. He threatened to snip 73 items for a total of $325 million.

But even after a deal was struck, Christie used his red pen to take out several pieces of language that dedicated money to preschool expansion.


As those line-item vetoes were brought to light Wednesday after the Independence Day holiday, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Secaucus, said Christie had been dishonest in negotiating a deal during the contentious weekend impasse.

Read the full story here 

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