Christie’s Exxon Deal Draws Critics

Environmentalists say pollution case settled for "cents on the dollar."

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Remember last month when we told you that Jon Stewart was cranky over Gov. Chris Christie’s $225 million sweetheart deal with Exxon to resolve pollution charges against the petrochemical giant? Well, now the terms of the settlement have officially been revealed — and environmentalists are outraged.

NewsWorks reports:

The deal hammered out last with acting State Attorney General aims to resolve a decade-old lawsuit claiming Exxon polluted the land and water around oil refineries in Linden and Bayonne.

But New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel said Monday posted details of the deal show the settlement is more favorable to Exxon.

“I think the dirty deal got dirtier. When you actually read the entire settlement agreement, it’s not really a settlement, it’s a sellout,” he said. “It includes 16 other sites. Some of them are very contaminated and quite large like the 950-acre Paulsboro refinery.”

There are defenders, the Asbury Park Press reports:

DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said state lawyers “have vigorously litigated this case for the good of the environment and for the people of New Jersey.”

“On top of the historic payout for this natural resources damages settlement, there is no cap on what ExxonMobil must spend to complete the remediation work. ExxonMobil is also obligated to remediate all of the other, though far less contaminated, sites included in the proposed agreement,” Martin said.

The Daily Record, though, opines that “the more we know about this deal, the worse it looks:”

Gov. Chris Christie and administration officials like to keep throwing around words like ‘historic” and “unprecedented” to trumpet the state’s $225 million pollution settlement with ExxonMobil, the details of which were officially released on Monday.

But the amount of the deal compared to other entirely unrelated cases is irrelevant. What matters is how the figure compares to the actual amount of environmental damage involved — and the state was seeking $8.9 billion in claims in a case in which a judge had already found ExxonMobil liable.

So, yes, this was a sellout to a major corporation. It’s a great deal — for ExxonMobil. It’s a lousy one for New Jersey. Officials weren’t scrambling to assure getting something out of potentially nothing. Christie wanted a quick payoff to help his budget woes, and settled for less than three cents on the dollar.

The deal is now subject to public comment for 60 days.