SOMERVILLE – At the 130th town hall meeting held during his administration, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie momentarily deviated from discussing his $33.8 billion state budget proposal to talk about a situation that involves another set of numbers: the state’s proposed settlement with Exxon Mobil regarding pollution at several New Jersey sites.
“I’m a little concerned about the deal with Exxon,” said Bick Treut, 57, of Somerville, a community college professor who posed his question to Christie in front of approximately 500 people at Van Derveer Elementary School in Somerville on Tuesday. “It’s a $8.9 billion lawsuit, and then somebody at the state has agreed to a $225 million dollar [settlement].”
The proposed settlement has generated controversy in Trenton among Democratic legislators and environmentalists alike. But Christie defended the proposed legal move.
“The Exxon settlement is a good settlement. Reports on the Exxon settlement are, as usual, not completely accurate. You would think that the $225 million is all we got. Wrong,” said Christie. “Up to state standards, there is no cap in what they have to pay. How much this is going to cost them, I don’t know. But neither do they. They’re going to have to clean everything up, no matter what it costs.”
The settlement agreement will be published in the New Jersey Register on April 6, and followed by a 30-day public comment period, after which, it must be approved by a Superior Court judge.