New Jersey v. ExxonMobil (N.J.)
Oil refineries and processing facilities have been an iconic part of New Jersey scenery for many years. Along with those oil production facilities, however have come oil spills and contaminants that have polluted the area. Officials estimate that seven million gallons of oil may have spilled or leaked since the founding of the oil businesses in the area in the late 1800’s. In 2015, oil-refinery based contamination was estimated to cover 1,800 acres in the Bayway, New Jersey area.
In the 1880’s Standard Oil bought 176 acres of land on Constable Hook in Bayonne, New Jersey. The company built pipelines and opened Bayway Refinery in nearby Linden, New Jersey in the early 1900’s. Standard Oil of New Jersey eventually became Exxon, which merged with Mobil in 1999. In the 1990’s, before the merger, Exxon agreed to clean up contaminated sites at Bayway and Bayonne, but never fully completed these commitments. After many years of lawsuits, the State of New Jersey brought suit against ExxonMobil over lost wetlands in addition to the contamination of lands. In 2008, a judge ruled that ExxonMobil was responsible for severe environmental contamination around their refineries. After this ruling, the next phase of the case ensued as the government tried to determine how much money Exxon owed for this clean up.
Originally, the government claimed that ExxonMobil owed the state $8.9 billion. The case continued through the administrations of four governors until, in 2015, the suit was settled for $225 million dollars. State Superior Court Judge Michael Hogan approved the settlement on August 25, 2015, calling it “fair, reasonable, in the public interest, and consistent with the goals of the Spill Compensation and Control Act.” Since the settlement was significantly less than the state initially said they were owed, many conservation groups have questioned its sufficiency. While they appealed the decision, it was ultimately upheld. Even though it was much less than the original amount sued for, it remains one of the largest settlements for environmental damages on record.
John Davis served on the team of lawyers representing the State of New Jersey. His work in this case represents his commitment to striking a real-world balance in pursuing justice for the parties he represents.
Date of Incident
August 25, 2015
Location of Incident
The ExxonMobil NRD Settlement: Beyond the Headlines - Riker Danzig Environmental Law Blog
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