Judge rules against environmentalist in ExxonMobil settlement case

HUDSON COUNTY — A Superior Court judge who allowed a controversial settlement between the State Department of Environmental Protection and ExxonMobil said environmental groups and others do not have a right to intervene.
State Sen. Ray Lesniak and a host of state and national environmental groups objected to the $225 million cleanup settlement, saying that it fell far short of covering the damage caused from more than a century of pollution.
Among the areas seen hardest hit by pollution resulting from oil storage is Bayonne, which housed operations for Standard Oil (later ExxonMobil) and other companies from early in the 20th Century.
In August, Superior Court Judge Michael Hogan in Union County approved the settlement. He also ruled against the objectors this week. Hogan said on only the DEP was authorized to bring natural resources damages suits under the Spill Act.
The Environmental Rights Act does not allow private parties to bring damages claims, Hogan said.
Hogan also said Lesniak could not intervene because this would violate the state Constitution’s separation of powers provision.
Environmentalists claim the state filings prior to the settlement estimated the cost of the cleanup at $8.9 billion. Environmentalist have promised to appeal Hogan’s latest decision.

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group