Assembly to Give Issue Public Discussion amid Disturbing & Unexplained Reports of Scant Settlement Amount
(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman John McKeon on Wednesday announced the committee will convene a hearing on the Christie administration’s reported decision to settle an $8.9 billion lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corporation for just $250 million.
Prieto and McKeon said the hearing would be held Thursday, March 19.
The New York Times recently reported the Christie administration plans to settle the lawsuit – filed over contamination and loss of use of more than 1,500 acres of wetlands, marshes, meadows and waters in North Jersey – for $250 million, even though Exxon Mobil’s liability was no longer in dispute.
The Christie administration has so far refused to comment on the settlement, which has not yet been approved by a judge.
“If what’s been reported is accurate, then this is an egregiously irresponsible decision that raises many, many questions and concerns,” said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “The public health of our residents and our environment are priorities, especially in areas long subject to pollution and misuse. That’s why this settlement would be difficult to comprehend. Taxpayers deserve a public discussion as to how such a decision could be made. The Assembly intends to give it to them.”
“The reported settlement is appalling and disturbing,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “The Christie administration appears more interested in rewarding Exxon Mobil – for whatever reason – than protecting taxpayers and our environment. This calls into question Gov. Christie’s leadership and decision-making abilities. Gov. Christie and his administration owe the people of New Jersey a clear public explanation. This will be their chance to provide it. I don’t want excuses. I want answers.”
McKeon said he intends to invite the Attorney General’s Office, among others, to testify.