Thousands of postcards from NJ residents are being delivered to the NJDEP today, calling for rejection of the Christie administration’s $225M settlement for polluting New Jersey. About 3¢ on the dollar for a 10-year lawsuit filed for $8.9B.
Rallying on the Statehouse steps are reps from NJ Sierra Club, NJ Citizen Action, Environment NJ, NY/NJ Baykeeper, Food and Water Watch, NJ Clean Water Action. They’re joined by assemblymen John McKeon and Carmelo Garcia, and Sen. Ray Lesniak. At a public hearing Wednesday, Lesniak testified that his read of the settlement language may allow Exxon to write off that $225M as a business expense. That would reduce Exxon’s cost, and shift the difference to taxpayers. Lesniak cites the word “alleged” in the language, which Exxon may use to distance itself from liability – enough to seek a state and federal tax break. Yesterday’s hearing was in Bayonne, one of the towns damaged by years of Exxon contamination. Everything about this deal stinks, including how it came about and the highly unusual way Chris Christie’s chief counsel inserted himself into the case. (Read Brad Campbell, former commissioner of the NJDEP).
Advocates are also inside the State House lobbying for SCR163 (Smith)/ACR230 (McKeon), which would constitutionally dedicate monies received by the state in Natural Resource Damage litigation That’s intended to stop the administration from raiding those funds to close budget holes. (see The Cost of Budget Raids)