LETTER NJDEP Tries to Block Sierra Club from Being Friend to the Court

Today the NJDEP officially filed papers to oppose our motion to file an amicus brief, along with other environmental groups, in the Exxon settlement case. Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club released the following statement: 

“The settlement is outrageous and now what the DEP is doing is outrageous. DEP said in the court papers more than a dozen times from the beginning that we should file an amicus brief and now they are opposing it. They are hypocrites. DEP is acting in bad faith and they can’t tell the truth. They say one thing and do another. The Exxon settlement is a dirty deal, and DEP cannot be trusted to represent the people of New Jersey. This is why we need to be an Amicus in the case. We expected Exxon to deny our motion to file as a ‘friend of the court’ because they are getting a great deal, but not DEP. DEP is clearly more concerned about protecting Exxon than the people of New Jersey.”


“DEP and Exxon are working together to keep us out of the case because they don’t want the facts to be given to the judge nor do they want this sellout to be exposed. Exxon’s settlement with the state of New Jersey is an insult to New Jersey taxpayers. The DEP does not want the public to be involved or understand why this is such a bad deal. They do not want us to be involved in the case because it will bring in transparency and openness to the process and show that this deal is a sham. They want to do this dirty deal behind closed doors. The DEP will side with Exxon because they care more about protecting polluters. This is proof that we should be allowed to intervene. Normally when you are a friend of the court, you tend to support the governmental agency but the DEP only wants to be a friend to Exxon. The DEP will not represent the people of New Jersey or uphold the public trust. What DEP is doing is disgraceful because they are a governmental agency who is supposed to support the people and the environment. We wanted to intervene to uphold the public trust that the DEP broke.”


“The DEP is not telling the truth about the information they have. The DEP doesn’t want us to show the court how they’re misrepresenting the public in the case against Exxon. We can bring in information about why the settlement hurts the environment and costs taxpayers money as well as expert reports to show that Exxon is getting left off the hook. We have DEP documents showing that the DEP has substantial information on many of the 16 additional sites and 800 gas stations added to the case. They’ve been deliberately withholding that information. We wanted to enter the case so we can force the DEP to release that information. We wanted to show the judge why this settlement is a sell-out and should be blocked. The DEP is hiding information and will not allow us to be part of this case because we can prove it. We hope that the judge learns of this new information so that he can block this dirty deal from going forward.”


“This is the biggest corporate giveaway in state history and we will appeal this decision. We can use the DEP’s own words against them. DEP says they are a trustee of natural resources. However, in this case, they want to get away with a pave-and-wave. We need to a real clean-up that restores coastal wetlands. Wetlands, groundwater, waterways, and fisheries belong to the people of New Jersey and are held in the public trust. We want to be a part of the case to uphold the public trust doctrine and make sure polluters pay for the damages to natural resources. New Jersey was winning this case all along. The judge was ready to come out with his decision and the Christie Administration undercut the judge and took the side of Exxon. New Jersey, after working on this settlement for years gives away billions of dollars from the people of New Jersey. These lands were held in the public trust. The Governor and the Attorney General have violated that trust. This is a shameful manipulation of the judicial system. We are here to put the trust back into the public trust doctrine and ensure that the money from the settlement goes to those places that have been devastated by this pollution. The Sierra Club will not look to seek one penny from this lawsuit. We want to see the money go where it should go: to the people and communities who have been impacted by Exxon’s pollution.”


“The public is angry about this settlement and the DEP doesn’t care. They only care about protecting corporate polluters. The DEP now stands for the ‘Department of Exxon Protection.’ The Christie Administration calls this the largest settlement in history, but it’s really the largest sellout in state history. Instead of going after the 9 billion dollars we are entitled, the Christie Administration settled for 3 cents on the dollar and added more sites to the deal. This settlement is an abuse of power. Exxon one time broke a record making over $40 billion in one quarter; I guess the Christie Administration wants them to break that record at the expense of New Jersey taxpayers. Instead of protecting the environment, the Christie Administration wants to protect Exxon.We need to represent the citizens of the state as well as the environment since DEP no longer does. When you sell out the public and let the polluters off the hook, it sends a message that you can get away with anything in the Christie Administration. We cannot allow this sellout settlement to stand. We hope the Judge sees through DEP’s hypocrisy and lies.”