McKeon: Assembly Committee to Hold Wednesday Hearing in Bayonne to Hear from Public on Proposed Christie-ExxonMobil Settlement

(TRENTON) – Assembly Judiciary Chairman John McKeon on Thursday announced the committee will meet Wednesday in Bayonne to hear public comment on the proposed $225 million settlement between the Christie administration and ExxonMobil for the environmental damage caused by Exxon’s refinery operations in Bayonne and Linden.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee will meet on Wednesday (June 3) at 10:30 a.m. in the City of Bayonne Municipal Council Chambers at 630 Avenue C.
“The Assembly has made its voice clear in opposing this settlement, but I also want to make sure those directly impacted by this environmental damage get a chance to make their voices heard,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “This settlement is a slap in the face, especially those who live in the areas affected by the contamination, yet it’s barely a slap on the wrist for Exxon. The public deserves the chance to express their opinion and be heard loud and clear.”
The committee has held several hearings on the proposed settlement, and on May 14 the Assembly approved a McKeon-sponsored resolution (AR-242) opposing the proposed settlement. The resolution respectfully urged the court presiding over the proposed settlement to reject it because it “shocks the conscience in light of undisputed evidence of significant damage to, and loss of, the state’s natural resources caused by pollution at the Bayway and Bayonne oil refinery sites and at certain other ExxonMobil sites in New Jersey.”
The Assembly resolution noted that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s own experts estimated that restoration of former wetlands, meadows, forests and intertidal habitat, and compensation for decades of contamination, at the Bayway and Bayonne sites would cost $8.9 billion, including $2.6 billion for primary restoration and $6.3 billion for compensatory damages, and $1.2 million for assessment costs.
Instead, the Christie administration and Exxon agreed to a $225 million settlement, which not only exempts Exxon Mobil from all natural resource damages claims and liability from the Bayway and Bayonne facilities, but 16 other different facilities owned or operated by Exxon.
“This settlement is complicated and wide-ranging, involving numerous sites and raising many, many concerns,” McKeon said. “Residents should of course file comments with the court, as is their right, but I also want to make certain their opinions are given proper due. That’s what this hearing is all about.”