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New Jersey DEP v. Exxon Mobil Corp.

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20020
Nos. A-0668-15T1, (N.J. Super. Ct. App., 02/12/2018)

The New Jersey Superior Court upheld an oil company's $225 million Spill Act settlement in connection with contamination at two oil refineries in Bayonne and Linden, New Jersey. The natural resources damages were estimated at $8.9 billion. In a settlement agreement, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) agreed to settle for $225 million. Environmental groups challenged the settlement claiming it was insufficient and moved to intervene in the case. They argued that DEP did not have the authority to decline prosecution at the facilities and that the settlement violated the Spill Act because it does not direct all recovered funds to be used for the remediation and restoration of natural resources. The court held that while the environmental groups have standing to appeal the decision, the settlement proceeds do not need to be deposited into the Spill Act fund under the law as it existed at the time. Further, DEP does not need EPA authorization to decline prosecution of an environmental claim.