Sierra Club Continues Fight of Exxon Settlement

Sierra Club Continues Fight of Exxon Settlement

The New Jersey Sierra Club has asked the Supreme Court to take up the Exxon case, along with Clean Water Action, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and Environment New Jersey. We are filing a Notice of a Petition for Certification today in the case NJ Sierra Club vs NJDEP on the Exxon settlement. Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, released the following statement:

“The lower court was wrong, and the Supreme Court needs to take this up; this is why we’ve filed for certification. The people and groups of New Jersey have a right to intervene in cases that affect them, but the courts ignored that. We have a right to intervene on this settlement and stop it from selling out the people and environment of New Jersey. We’re going to court to fight for the people of New Jersey, who should be allowed to sue their government if they do the wrong thing. We’re also fighting to make sure that Exxon doesn’t get away with their mess.

“Earlier this month, the Appellate Court ruled against our appeal based on merit but had a split decision on standing and right to appeal. The court decided that the environmental groups suing have standing enough to appeal this case. However, we’re asking the Supreme Court to take this case up because the court denied our standing and right to intervene. Under New Jersey law, citizens and organizations do have standing. Therefore, we should have been allowed to intervene. This is a critical decision that we are looking to overturn because it would set a bad precedent for future cases.

“We challenged the DEP in this dirty deal because polluters need to clean up their mess and pay for the damages they’ve done. We were not part of the case when it was originally filed because the DEP was doing their job then. It wasn’t until Governor Christie decided to become a national politician that he started raising money for the RGA. The people of New Jersey have been victimized twice- first by the pollution and second by the state settling less than $225 million for natural resource damages estimating more than $8.9 billion at two refineries and then adding 16 additional sites, and over 800 gas stations. We also believe that the Judge’s decision violated the Spill Act because it didn’t require the clean-up of Morris’s Creek.

“By appealing the case, this decision comes after the constitutional dedication of environmental settlement funds. The dedication passed on the ballot in November. This means that the money will not be able to be diverted for other purposes. In the original settlement, out of the $225 million: $50 million would have gone towards legal fees. That means no monies will go to restoration or the environment and $175 million would go to the General Fund. We were still in court challenging this decision when the constitutional dedication passed. Now that the case has been decided, the money will go towards where it supposed to go: to the environment and communities impacted by Exxon’s pollution.

“The Murphy Administration should not oppose us going to the Supreme Court because the issues are too important. We have a new Attorney General and a new DEP, and we hope they see the importance of making Exxon pay for their pollution, rather than settling for pennies on the dollar. We need to make sure that people have their right to sue government when they’re wrong with standing and the right to intervene. We’re asking the Supreme Court to take on this case because the Lower Court was wrong. If this decision stands, it would prevent others from having standing to intervene to sue government.

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