- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Environmental groups say they plan to pursue further appeals of New Jersey’s $225 million settlement with Exxon Mobil even if a judge denies their effort to intervene in the case.

Superior Court Judge Michael Hogan could rule as soon as Friday on a motion to intervene in the suit.

A look at the issue and what’s at stake:

___

CLEANUP AND COMPENSATION



The environmental groups want to intervene in the case to force extensive cleanup efforts at the affected sites, which include two oil refineries in northern New Jersey and retail gas stations, and to recoup more money for the state.

The state Department of Environmental Protection and Hogan in his opinion have reiterated that Exxon must still remediate the sites as part of the settlement, but environmental groups worry those efforts will be too minimal. The cost of the cleanup has also not been determined yet, but the Irving, Texas-based company has already paid nearly $260 million on remediation since 1991.

Compensation is also a huge sticking point. The state originally argued Exxon should be $8.9 billion in the case, but shortly before Hogan ruled announced a deal that would result in the state recouping just $225 million. It’s not clear exactly how much the groups want the state to recover but they want substantially more than $225 million. The Christie administration has hailed the settlement as historic and said pursuing the nearly $9 billion could result in additional - and costly - litigation.

The state is opposing the intervention, which comes after an earlier effort by the groups to intervene was blocked by Hogan. Nothing has changed this time around, the state argued in a brief opposing the groups’ appeal.

___

MORE APPEALS?

The environmental groups are poised to pursue appeals if the current motion fails.

New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel says if the judge approves their motion, the group, which includes Tittel’s organization as well as Clean Water Action, Delaware Riverkeeper and Environment New Jersey will appeal the August ruling approving the settlement. If their effort fails, they’ll appeal the judge’s denial, Tittel said.

___

WHERE’S THE MONEY?

The appeals could delay payment to the state under the judge’s earlier ruling.

Under the settlement, Exxon is required to put the $225 million in escrow. But New Jersey will not have access to the money until the time to appeal expires or any appeals from entry of the consent order are resolved.

Under law, about $50 million of the settlement will go toward site remediation. Roughly $50 million will go toward the state’s private legal costs. The rest is slated to go into the general fund.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide