From the editors of NJ Spotlight. It’s hard to disagree with this one and why Chris Smith isn’t screaming about this is also beyond me.
The public is outraged by the dirty deal between Exxon and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection that was rubber-stamped by Judge Hogan. Even more outrageous is now the Christie administration is trying to spin the biggest environmental sellout in state history as a “fair” deal! What makes this even worse is that almost no money from this settlement will go toward environmental purposes. The state, after working on this settlement for years, has given away billions of dollars from the people of New Jersey. Out of the $225 million settlement: $50 million will go toward legal fees and $175 million will go to the general fund. That means no money is left for restoration or the environment. This settlement is a shameful manipulation of the judicial system.
By settling for $225 million, the NJ DEP and ExxonMobil have agreed to avoid cleaning up years of Exxon’s pollution at three refineries, over 800 gas stations, and 15 additional sites across the state. The money was for natural-resource damages estimated at $8.9 billion alone at the two refineries. It was supposed to account for the cost of restoring more than 1,500 acres of wetlands that were contaminated by oil spills. The state was winning this case all along and it makes no sense to settle. Not only is the settlement a complete giveaway to the environment, but it hurts the taxpayers.
I want this reversed. You should also.