Home > Uncategorized > Activists and Democratic Legislators Blast Gov. Christie’s Exxon Dirty Deal

Activists and Democratic Legislators Blast Gov. Christie’s Exxon Dirty Deal

Activists Call For Constitutional Amendment to Dedicate Settlement Funds to Environmental Restoration 

State House, Trenton NJ (6/4/15)

State House, Trenton NJ (6/4/15)

[Update: 6/7/15 – Interesting to note that Senator Lesniak didn’t say this about dedicating settlement money – he said it about casino gambling:

“We have to get this on the ballot this November,” declared state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union). “If we don’t do this now, it will never get done.”

Stuff like this makes me question whether the Democrats are serious or merely grandstanding. ~~~ end update]

A broad coalition of environmental, labor, community, consumer, housing, and citizens groups rallied in Trenton today to blast Governor Christie’s sweetheart $225 million settlement deal with Exxon and call for reforms to prevent future abuses.

They delivered over 50,000 public comments to DEP submitted by citizens across that state who are outraged by the Christie deal with Exxon, which recovered less than 3 cents on the dollar of an estimated $8.9 billion in damages to natural resources and wetlands from 100 years of pollution at the Bayway and Bayonne oil refineries.

The activist were joined by Democratic Legislators, including Senator Lesniak and Assemblymen McKeon and Johnson.

Senator Lesniak noted that despite the fact that a trial court found Exxon liable for the injuries to natural resources, that the Christie Settlement allowed Exxon to deny any fault and used the word “alleged” damages, thereby providing tax breaks to Exxon that reduced the cost to Exxon to just 1.4 cents on the dollar.

Senator Lesniak blasts Christie's Exxon deal - is he serious, or just playing environmentalists?

Senator Lesniak blasts Christie’s Exxon deal – is he serious, or just playing environmentalists?

The Christie deal also let Exxon off the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars more in pollution damages to natural resources from 16 additional Exxon facilities, including the Paulsboro oil depot, as well as over 800 gas stations across the state with toxic groundwater pollution.

Activists called for Democratic Legislators to pass a Concurrent l Resolution (SCR 163 – Smith) and ACR 230 – McKeon) so that voters could decide whether to amend the Constitution to dedicate these settlement funds to environmental restoration, instead of closing budget holes and paying for corporate tax breaks, as Gov. Christie has done.

If the Democratic controlled Legislature could pass Resolutions in the Assembly and Senate by 3/5th majority votes, then the measure could be placed on the November ballot.

The Democrats have majorities in both houses to provide the votes to do that and the Resolution does not require approval of Governor Christie.

If the Democrats are serious – and not just grandstanding – then they will put pass the Resolutions and put the measure on the ballot in November.

In addition, activists want legislators to remove prior budget language to assure that NRD revenues are not used to plug budget holes.

For additional reforms, I have recommended that the Legislature remove the current $50 million cap on liability for oil and chemical spills – that bill was vetoed by Gov. Christie and another attempt is now stalled in the Senate.

I’ve also called on legislators to push DEP to adopt regulations to implement and enforce the NRD program.

DEP’s failure to adopt NRD regulations led to prior legal defeats in NJ Courts and was one big reason why DEP had a weak legal handed that forced a pennies on the dollar settlement with Exxon.

Finally, legislators need to restore DEP’s authority to adopt ecologically based cleanup standards – and reverse the weakening of NJ’s cleanup laws that let Exxon – and hundreds of other polluters off the hook for real, permanent and complete  cleanup.

There were some great signs, harsh words for Exxon and Gov. Christie, and vibrant activist energy today – here are some photos:






Hal Bozarth, hemistry ounil lobbyist, stopped by to snarl

Hal Bozarth, Chemistry Council lobbyist, stopped by to snarl

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
You must be logged in to post a comment.