Editorials and Opinion
N.J. shortchanged by Exxon Mobil wetlands deal | Editorial (The Times of Trenton [NJ] , 07/27/15)
"State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union County, was one of the first state lawmakers to express outrage when news broke in March that New Jersey had agreed to accept $225 million from the Exxon Mobil Corporation to settle a decade-long case.
The state had originally sought $8.9 billion in compensation for environmental damage done to more than 1,500 of wetlands, marshes, meadows and waters in the Meadowlands.... Now a state Superior Court has turned down attempts by Lesniak and several environmental groups to intervene in the settlement. Judge Michael Hogan ruled that the activists' attempts to become parties to the suit would "unduly delay" the proceedings.
Despite the setback, the settlement's opponents have pledged to continue to keep up the good fight.
From Day One, Lesniak and Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel have been wary of the deal – and with good cause.... It's hard not to feel that New Jersey residents are being sold down the river by all this. The Garden State deserves to be compensated for the loss of valuable public resources, not forced into a sweetheart deal of Chris Christie's making."
EDITORIAL: Raking in donations, shoveling bad policy (Virginian-Pilot, 07/07/15)
"Nutrient pollution causes algae blooms, which cause the bay's annual dead zones, which kill everything they engulf: fish, oysters, crabs, plants. That was the damage the Chesapeake Bay Agreement was forged to prevent. ... The agreement was eventually given some enforcement powers - the EPA could theoretically take control of clean-up if progress wasn't made - but Washington refused to act. Until the Chesapeake Bay Foundation sued to force the EPA to do so. In 2010, the bay states - which now include New York, Delaware and West Virginia - came under EPA orders to cut pollution in their waterways, although the states still decided how to reach the targets."
Editorial: Rep. Goodlatte takes aim at the Bay cleanup, again (Free Lance-Star [VA] , 07/05/15)
"The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is suing the state of Virginia for its failure to require farmers to erect fencing that would keep livestock out of the Bay’s tributaries.
Virginia’s farmers are proving themselves a cooperative bunch. They are taking seriously key best management practices, .... But the improvement gained through those efforts is lost when livestock wades into streams and relieves itself, creating a significant sewage pollution issue.
... The state agencies would do well to revisit the permit language, add the fencing requirement, seek funding to assist the operations in meeting the provision and settle the suit. Money put toward that purpose is much better spent than on litigation defense."
EDITORIAL: Stop ExxonMobil settlement (Daily Record [NJ], 06/10/15)
"New Jersey’s pollution settlement with ExxonMobil for a mere $225 million — out of nearly $9 billion in damages the state had sought from the company in a lawsuit — has been the source of great angst among environmentalists. They’ve labeled the deal a sellout and for good reason .... This deal is so egregiously bad for New Jersey that critics aren’t content to just verbally blast away at Christie and move on. They want to stop this settlement before it’s finalized by the courts .... Seven environmental groups announced plans on Wednesday to jump in on a lawsuit seeking to block final acceptance of the settlement.... The ExxonMobil deal should be blocked. And future settlements with polluters should be devoted primarily to the environment. We urge lawmakers and activists to continue working toward both goals."
EDITORIAL: G.O.P. Assault on Environmental Laws (New York Times, 06/08/15)
"President Obama has announced or will soon propose important protections for clean water, clean air, threatened species and threatened landscapes. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and other Republicans in Congress are trying hard not to let that happen ... the sage grouse initiative is a legitimate executive action aimed at carrying out Congress’s purpose in the 1973 Endangered Species Act, which was to save a species before it disappears."
Editorial: Earth Day serves as reminder of the goals we must pursue together (Free Lance-Star [VA] , 04/21/15)
"Given the science that tells us the realities and implications of climate change, however, it is clearly up to us to do what we can to combat it, delay it and adapt to it. With the 2016 presidential campaign already unfolding, it’s fair game to judge the viability of any candidate in part by whether he or she accepts the consensus of climate change research and will govern true to that belief."
EDITORIAL: Restoring delta must be part of tunnels plan (Fresno Bee [CA] , 04/20/15)
"U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the plan would harm water quality and aquatic life, and increase pollution.... a focused, coordinated approach to restore habitat to help endangered and threatened species recover should be part of the governor’s new plan."
EDITORIAL: Brown shouldn’t leave eco goals out of new Delta plan; Set metrics on restoration and start it now (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 04/19/15)
"The Bay Delta Conservation Plan was proposed with two equal goals: to reliably supply Southern Californians and Central Valley farmers with water, and to restore the Delta ecosystem to save endangered species, such as salmon and Delta smelt. ... a focused, coordinated approach to restore habitat to help endangered and threatened species recover should be part of the governor’s new plan.... the governor should specifically define the ecological goals, set measurable objectives for recovery of species, produce a coordinated action plan and strictly monitor its progress."
EDITORIAL: More double dealing in ExxonMobil settlement (Asbury Park Press [NJ], 04/17/15)
"Gov. Chris Christie's sellout to ExxonMobil just keeps getting worse. ... This settlement is a boon to ExxonMobil — and a huge loser for the state, both from an environmental and financial standpoint. The practical effect of that $225 million will be minimal given all the provisions and caveats — and the state is almost certainly leaving a whole lot of money on the table."
NWA Editorial: Cavefish help region develop the right way (Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 04/17/15)
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers the fish a threatened species.... cavefish are living barometers of the condition of the Northwest Arkansas water supply and how well we're taking care of it.
In short, if the cave fish disappear, it means the region's water quality is on the decline. With all the development and population growth in Northwest Arkansas, the region's leaders must be continually concerned with protecting water supplies.... A recently released study suggests the Ozark cavefish and residential develop can co-exist .... the presence of the cavefish demonstrates the groundwater in the area is fairly high quality.... those pushing development cannot themselves be as blind as the cavefish when it comes to valuing protecting of the environment.
This critical discussion must happen before irreparable harm is done.... Approaching it any other way would suggest the Ozark cavefish isn't the only creature that's blind."
EDITORIAL: Gov. Christie’s Bad Deal With Exxon (New York Times, 04/09/15)
"New Jersey has been fighting for years to get the Exxon Mobil Corporation to clean up and pay up after turning more than 1,500 acres of marshes and waterways into toxic wastelands. But, just as a State Superior Court judge was about to rule on the case earlier this year, Gov. Chris Christie’s administration suddenly and unexpectedly agreed to settle with Exxon for 3 cents on the dollar. The agreement, which became public on Monday, allows Exxon to escape with a payment of $225 million, far less than the estimated $8.9 billion the state had originally asked for a decade ago.
There will be no public hearing for this deal, which was negotiated in secret by the state. ...Anyone who wants cleaner air and water in New Jersey should urge Mr. Christie to reject this obvious sellout. If enough people raise questions, the State Department of Environmental Protection might well have second thoughts. If it does not, it will be up to Judge Michael Hogan to reject this insufficient settlement and demand more from Exxon."
Editorial: Toxic details emerge from N.J. $250M settlement with Exxon Mobil (The Times of Trenton [NJ] , 04/09/15)
"There was little hope that closer examination would make the deal New Jersey tentatively reached with Exxon Mobil over the befouling of the state's environment smell better.... the report confirmed our suspicions that Exxon is getting a sweetheart deal beyond all comprehension.... Environmentalists are mounting a campaign to derail the deal, encouraging state residents to raise their voices during the public comment period.
We second their motion."
Editorial: Details are in — and ExxonMobil deal still stinks (Asbury Park Press [NJ], 04/07/15)
"What matters is how the figure compares to the actual amount of environmental damage involved — and the state was seeking $8.9 billion in claims in a case in which a judge had already found ExxonMobil liable.
So, yes, this was a sellout to a major corporation. It's a great deal — for ExxonMobil. It's a lousy one for New Jersey.... The more we know about this settlement the worse it looks. The arrangement includes a provision to release ExxonMobil from any pollution liability at 16 other industrial sites and hundreds of gas stations.... scuttle this deal."
Exxon slimes Jersey, and passes the cost on to Uncle Sam | Editorial (Star-Ledger Newark [NJ] , 04/07/15)
"More than one-third of ExxonMobil's $225 million wrist-slap for turning 1,800 acres of our marshes and wetlands into tar pits will be passed along to the federal taxpayer.... if enough lawmakers want to change the federal tax code - perhaps by prohibiting settlements to be classified as compensatory or deductible - that would put bad actors on notice."
EDITORIAL: The Record: Exxon deal revisited (Record [NJ] , 04/07/15)
"THE STATE'S proposed settlement of a nearly $9 billion pollution suit with ExxonMobil for a mere $225 million may not be as irresponsible as it looked when it surfaced in late February. That is not praise, but a call for more intense scrutiny of the deal."
Marin IJ Editorial: Expansion of marine sanctuaries a victory for the environment (Marin Independent Journal [CA], 03/19/15)
"Oil and gas exploration will now be banned not just off the Marin coast, in an area encompassing the Farallon Islands, but now also north along Sonoma and Mendocino counties’ coastlines to just above Point Arena.
That protects a rich feeding area for 25 threatened and endangered species, including blue whales and humpback whales, northern fur seals and leatherback turtles. The area is home to a third of the world’s whales and dolphins, more than 163 species of birds and more than 300 species of fish."
The Christie-Exxon relationship may be toxic for the rest of us | Editorial (Star-Ledger Newark [NJ] , 03/19/15)
"Gov. Christie took a victory lap over his Bayway cleanup deal with Exxon last week ... He won that negotiation, he insists, because $225 million extracted from Exxon over its tar-dumping party ... But here's what he doesn't tell you: Exxon has been obligated to clean the area since a consent order in 1991, but the real goal of the $8.9 billion lawsuit was the full-scale restoration of the 1,500 acres of wetlands contaminated by 4,000 tons of tar - which cannot be restored for decades, if at all.... since 1997, its strategy is spelled out in a single phrase: "The key to lowering costs is to change the rules of the game," it reads.
The best way to achieve this is to have an ally in the state house. In this case, it was a governor who surrendered to the will of campaign contributors, sold out his people, and had the gall to call it victory."
EDITORIAL: The Record: No 'green' in Trenton (Record [NJ] , 03/18/15)
"The state's pending settlement with Exxon would award New Jersey $225 million, a far cry from the $8.9 billion it sought from the company for polluting acres of wetlands near its refineries in Bayonne and Linden. No one gets all that they seek in lawsuits, but to settle for $225 million — less than 3 percent of the initial demand — would be a very bad deal for New Jersey."
End wait for strong plan to protect water quality: Editorial (Orlando Sentinel [FL] , 03/18/15)
"Discharges of water polluted by fertilizer and urban runoff from Lake Okeechobee have spawned toxic algae blooms in other waterways, with disastrous consequences. In 2013, scores of manatees and dolphins and hundreds of pelicans died in the Indian River Lagoon.... The Legislature needs to pass a strong bill — this year — to improve water quality. Floridians have waited too long."
EDITORIAL: ExxonMobil deal a cheap budget gimmick (Daily Record [NJ], 03/13/15)
"Outrage over Gov. Chris Christie’s recent lowball settlement with ExxonMobil focused primarily on the disparity between the state’s $8.9 billion damage claim and the final $225 million deal.
What makes the sellout even more egregious, however, is that the governor is pulling this stunt in part just to generate a quick-fix budget filler, taking away money that should be directed toward more environmental cleanup."
EDITORIAL: This is unsettling (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 03/12/15)
"Gov. Christie's course change in a lawsuit seeking restitution for the environment and people of the state also has an unpleasant odor. The case was in litigation for 11 years, and following an eight-month trial last year and final briefs in November, a state Superior Court judge was about to set damages. But before he could, the Christie administration fashioned a surprising proposed settlement.
Under the deal, the same government that had asked for $8.9 billion in damages agreed to accept astonishingly little: $225 million.... while several other polluters had agreed to settlements to cover the harm they had done to the environment, Exxon refused. If this deal goes forward, the message to polluters is that they can have their way with the state."
Christie must come clean in oily Exxon settlement | Editorial (Star-Ledger Newark [NJ] , 03/05/15)
"He was in charge of $8.9 billion suit against the petrochemical and oil refinery plant that filled our wetlands with 9 million cubic yards of tar, so Christie's reported agreement to settle for $250 million is a travesty for environmental protection and law enforcement.
That alone demands public disclosure, and if there isn't a suitable explanation other than this governor's kleptomaniacal impulse to grab whatever environmental funds are within reach, the judge should reject the settlement."
EDITORIAL: Herald News: Settling for less in Exxon pollution case (Herald News [Passaic County, NJ] , 03/03/15)
"Still, when you are seeking almost $9 billion and wind up with $250 million, as the state of New Jersey reportedly will do to end a legal battle with Exxon Mobil, it raises many questions. After all, the judgment the state is about to receive would represent less than 3 percent of what it sought.... The state recently settled litigation involving three firms responsible for contaminating the Passaic River for an estimated $355 million despite an original demand for about $5 billion. The state put the bulk of that $355 million into the budget's general fund, leaving only about $67 million to clean up the river.
That same pattern can happen again"
EDITORIAL: ExxonMobil settlement must be blocked (Asbury Park Press [NJ], 03/02/15)
"The latest outrage is the apparent agreement, first reported last week in The New York Times, of the administration's decision to settle New Jersey's 11-year-old, $8.9 billion environmental damage lawsuit against ExxonMobil for a paltry $250 million.
The lawsuit, which dates back to the Gov. Jim McGreevey administration and has been pursued by three successive governors, including Gov. Christie, has sought compensation for the contamination and loss of use of more than 1,500 acres of wetlands, marshes, meadows and waters surrounding the company's former Bayway and Bayonne refineries.
What makes the news of the settlement even more disturbing is that the liability in the case had already been determined at trial."
World-Herald editorial: Bald eagle’s return a great story (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 03/01/15)
"Banning DDT, prohibiting the killing of eagles, improving water quality in many lakes and rivers, protecting nesting sites and restoring eagles to areas where they had been eliminated meant that by 2007, the bald eagle could be removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species.... the rebound in Nebraska and Iowa is every bit as impressive.... The bald eagle’s return is a conservation story of the finest kind."
Mercury News editorial: Delta's health should take priority over pumping (San Jose Mercury News [CA], 02/24/15)
"The Delta smelt count dropped to the lowest level in recorded history. The impact on salmon was equally horrendous. The state reported that 95 percent of the juvenile Chinook salmon that spawned in the upper Sacramento River died because of the poor water conditions. Rising water temperatures and lower river levels also resulted in the growth of invasive plants that damage water quality.
California can't let this degradation of the largest estuary west of the Mississippi continue. ... The Delta smelt is merely the canary in the coal mine when it comes to preserving the estuary's health. Further degradation to the Delta will ultimately threaten the quality of the drinking water for Northern California residents."
EDITORIAL: We know the drill (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 02/20/15)
"As a federal judge determines how many billions BP should pay for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Obama administration is pushing a troubling plan to allow drilling in the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast from Virginia to Georgia.... Although the carcasses of almost 1,000 dolphins and 500 sea turtles were recovered, scientists say there is no accounting for the number that weren't."