New Jersey court announced on Friday, Oct. 9 that it had denied the latest intervention that the state and environmental groups have against Exxon Mobil Corp.
Superior court judge Michael Hogan blocked the attempt of state Sen. Raymond Lesniak for other groups to pursue a possible settlement between the state and the international oil and gas company, over a pollution case. Judge Hogan said that the groups did not have a position to bring the case in the first place.
The state was initially pursuing an $8.9 billion deal for damages in natural resources that the company's numerous gas stations and refineries allegedly caused the state. Before the case was ruled on by Judge Hogan, New Jersey and Exxon declared that they had agreed upon on a $225 million settlement.
For the administration of Governor Chris Christie, the settlement was a better choice because the $8.9 billion initial request would entail a long and tedious process.
No matter what amount would prevail in the end, it will be used to fix the environmental damages and clean up the affected sites.
Both the democratic lawmakers and environmental groups have been working to arbitrate in the case since March 2015, when the settlement was first announced. However, Judge Logan has blocked their bid.
"This miscarriage of justice will not stand," Lesniak said. "Judge Hogan has denied the public its right to appeal the biggest environmental contamination case in the history of the state." He also added that he would make appeals on the decision.
The case started way back in 2004, when New Jersey attorney general and the state Department of Environmental Protection filed a lawsuit against Irving, Exxon Mobil's Texas-based firm.
The lawsuit said the refineries of the company in Bayonne and Linden, as well as 1,700 gasoline stations, contaminated the waters and land for decades. The state added that the said damage has caused 1,500 acres of marshes and wetlands to toxic waste sites.
During a trial, a judge deemed the company liable, however, no damage amount was declared until August.
The attorney then sent a letter to the judge, prompting to avoid ruling as the two parties had come up with a settlement.
Photo: Daniel Oines | Flickr