Friday, May 1, 2015

New Jersey Fights Exxon Settlement

    For this current event I found two articles from the New York Times both about the current legal issues between Exxon and the State of New Jersey.  The main issue is that Exxon had two plants in New Jersey that were putting out a large amount of pollution over an extended period of time.  The state did an assessment on the damages caused by Exxon and determined that there was $8.9 billion in damages.  Over the last few years legal battles happened in court over how much damage there really was and if Exxon was liable for the damages but before a verdict was reached both sides opted to resolve the issue outside of court.  The settlement that was released was that Exxon would pay $225 million in damages and that there would be no formal actions taken against them besides the fine and that they would not be considered at fault for the damages to the environment.  Currently the settlement will sit for 60 days and the public is allowed to voice their opinions and then this settlement will go in front of a judge who will ultimately decide if it is fair.  Right now there is a lot of outrage in the public and even the New Jersey State Senate voted 24 to 0 to urge the judge to reject this settlement.
    I believe that in this situation it is important for New Jersey to stand up against Exxon and to try and get as much money as possible from them. $225 million is not even close to the amount owed to the state so why settle for so little?  I also believe that the Government needs to start caring about the environment more and this could set a national precedent; if a major company pollutes and causes great harm to the environment they must be held responsible.  Unfortunately it seems that Chris Christie seems to be for this settlement because he can use the money to fill holes in New Jersey's general budget.  I think that the state should fight as hard as they can and if necessary appeal the decision to a higher court.  Some ways to fight this in the future would be to have general inspections and yearly reports by companies to monitor pollution and impact on the area to catch issues like this early.  I also think that the government should label these companies as harmful to the environment and that could help stop other states from letting them operate in their state.
--Ian O'Brien

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