Charles WatsonSep 11, 2017, 4:59 pm

Lawmaker fights $225M Exxon deal amid Christie administration settlement

Senator Ray Lesniak prepared to tie settlement up in litigation until taxpayers are 'adequately compensated'

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New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak joined environmental advocates on Monday to begin presenting their oral arguments before the appellate court on the state's decision to settle a nearly $9 billion "environmental pollution" case with Exxon.

The case involves waste that apparently destroyed natural resources over decades after being dumped at the company's industrial facilities in Bayonne and Linden.

“The pollution from Exxon has killed any opportunity to fish in the Arthur Kill as I did when I was a child and has eliminated the opportunity to restore the wetlands and marsh lands that protect us from storm surges,” Lesniak said.

The Christie administration agreed to a settlement with Exxon for $225 million a day before a trial was set to begin back in 2015.
Lesniak had tried to intervene in the agreement, but a superior court judge temporarily barred him from blocking the consent agreement, allowing the settlement to go through.

In court he argued that the lower court's ruling violates the "Spill Act" and he has the right to intervene because it’s a matter of substantial public interest.

“It’s very important that this $225 million settlement of an $8.9 billion claim be reversed so that the public can be adequately compensated,” Lesniak said.

Lawyers for the state and Exxon argued that there is no standing for public intervention in these sorts of settlements, outside of public comment.

Lawyers for the state also argued that allowing people to interfere in the settlement would not only tie up the settlement but also slow down remediation of the sites the state filed suit over in the first place.

Lesniak said he's prepared to tie the settlement up in litigation until taxpayers get their just due.

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