Assembly Bill to Use NRD & Exxon Settlement $$$ Released from Committee
The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee released A4578 (Land/ Andrzejczak).The bill makes supplemental appropriation of $50 million from General Fund to DEP and adds language provisions concerning use of certain environmental settlement monies for natural resource restoration projects.
“New Jersey is finally spending the $50 million of the $225 million Exxon Settlement Money that wasn’t stolen. We challenged this settlement because polluters need to clean up their mess and pay for the damages they’ve done. The bill however is too vague on where the money is going to go. We want to make sure the funding for restoration projects are going directly to areas impacted by Exxon,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This is the first time a substantial amount of money is going to natural resource damages.”
The settlement also includes additional industrial sites in Paulsboro, Flemington and Pennington oil depots, Edison Research Lab, Linden oil depot and many other contaminated sites around New Jersey. The Paulsboro Refinery is a 950-acre site that has contaminated wetlands and tidal marshes and clean up there alone could cost billions. There was a 135,000-gallon oil spill and nine additional spills as well contaminating 63 acres of the aquifer and billions of gallons of groundwater. In our own files we’ve found information on two gas stations, the Linden Exxon lab, and the Paulsboro Exxon Lube site.
“We believe the money should be targeted to areas that have been impacted by pollution. The areas that will be funded under the bill however have not been impacted. We support projects that will be funded using $10 million for Hudson-Raritan Estuary Water Quality Infrastructure/CSO Improvements are good for Cape May and White Cedar Swamp restoration, however towns and cities like Bayonne and Paulsboro that have suffered injuries from Exxon should be the main focus for restoration. Projects should also focus on urban areas too. There is a committee working on NRD right now on solutions for cities and towns affected,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, “Communities affected by Exxon have been impacted twice by pollution and dumping and now a third time by diverting funding for clean-up and restoration projects.”