Sierra Club’s Tittel Denounces Murphy Administration as Christie and Exxon-Friendly


Irritated at the Phil Administration, the New Jersey Sierra Club is leaning on the Supreme Court to take up the Exxon case, and today, along with Clean Water Action, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and Environment New Jersey, filed a Notice of a Petition for Certification in the case NJ Sierra Club vs NJDEP on the Exxon settlement.

“The Murphy Administration has sided with Exxon and Christie over the people of New Jersey,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club. “They are opposing our appeal to the Supreme Court. By doing so, they are signing off on the biggest sell-out on a pollution case in state history. While he was running, the Governor opposed the settlement. Now his Administration is supporting this dirty deal where the taxpayers of New Jersey only getting pennies on the dollars. We challenged this settlement because polluters need to clean up their mess and pay for the damages they’ve done. If we’re not awarded certification, the settlement will stand, and Exxon will get away with the biggest government subsidy in state history.

“By opposing our certification, the State is agreeing that the settlement was acceptable,” Tittel added. “This means they are supporting the biggest rip-off of taxpayers in state history. 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. Under this deal, Exxon does not have to clean-up sites to the extent that they had to before. We also believe that the Judge’s decision violated the Spill Act because it didn’t require the clean-up of Morris’s Creek.

The environmentalist said 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.

“By opposing our certification, the State is saying that the people of New Jersey do not have standing to challenge settlements by governments on pollution cases with corporations,” Tittel said. “This sets a terrible precedent that undermines the right of people to challenge government decisions, especially bad ones. The Governor is siding with corporate polluters over public interest. Thankfully, our appeal has meant that the decision will occur 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.”

The Appellate Court had ruled against the group’s 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,” said Tittel. “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.

“The Murphy Administration should have at least stayed neutral and not opposed us going to the Supreme Court because the issues are too important. The State’s decision undermines public participation in the process and allows government decisions not to be challenged. 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 and so is the Murphy administration. We’re going to court to stand up for the people of New Jersey and to oppose this settlement. We’re doing the job that the state of NJ should have been doing. If we win the case, they get more money. That’s why it makes no sense for them to oppose us.”


ExxonMobil Brief and Appendix - Environmental Petitioners


DEP opp brief to cert petitions
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