Assembly Enters Public Comment to DEP Opposing Settlement; McKeon Urges Residents to do Same before June 5 Deadline
(TRENTON) — Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman John F. McKeon (D-Essex) issued a multimedia package Thursday, in which he explains the reasons for the General Assembly opposing the proposed $225 million settlement agreement between the state and ExxonMobil for the environmental damage caused by Exxon’s refinery operations in Bayonne and Linden.
McKeon also issued a call-to-action for New Jersey residents similarly opposed to the proposed deal to contact the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and make their voices heard prior to the June 5 closure of the public comment period on the settlement.
The multimedia package consists of McKeon’s commentary and call-to-action and audio and a transcript of same.
A clean copy of the audio file is available upon request.
A transcript from Assemblyman McKeon is appended below:
Assemblyman John F. McKeon (D-Essex), Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair:
“We’re dealing with what’s probably the most significantly contaminated site in the State of New Jersey, if not around the country. It’s been 125 years in the making. It’s been litigated for the past 10 years, relative to the state being reimbursed for the natural habitat that was destroyed. And to settle that for $225 million — especially when there was $9 billion put forward in damages — after a two month trial inherently is suspect.
“We did the right thing. We looked at trial transcripts; we looked at expert reports; we retained expert council to take a look at the whole process. And our final conclusion is: beyond the merits of that settlement to start with; when you throw in 16 additional contaminated sites; 1,800 sites around the state that Exxon will now be indemnified for, relative to their service stations; it’s not the right thing for the taxpayer, for the citizens of the state.
“So, we will let the judge know, through our thoughtful evaluation, that very strongly held opinion, as a body, and hopefully he’ll take it into account in rejecting the settlement.
“This Legislature that represents the people of this state has now spoken. But the power of the people means more than anything. If you’re concerned this environmental inequity; about doing the right thing by the citizens of the state for the next generation, get in touch with the DEP. Let them know that your opinion is that this settlement should be rejected.”
Residents wishing to voice their opposition to the proposed Exxon settlement can contact the DEP
with the subject line “Exxon Mobil Bayway Settlement”
or via regular mail:
Office of Record Access
Attn: Exxon Mobil Bayway Comments
PO Box 420, Mail Code 401-06Q
Trenton, NJ 08625-0420