McKeon, Lesniak attend Bayonne public hearing on $225M Exxon settlement


The Assembly Judiciary Committee, headed by Chairman John McKeon (D-27), heard from state Senator Ray Lesniak (D-20), activists and residents during a public hearing on the Gov. Chris Christie administration’s proposed $225 million settlement with ExxonMobil.


Lesniak addressed the committee early on during the roughly 90-minute hearing, later summarizing his thoughts when speaking one-on-one with Hudson County View.

Jeff Tittel, the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, – also a staunch critic of Christie for years – said residents need to be fairly compensated for the damage created by Exxon pollution.

Peggy Wong, a board member of the Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy – as well as the president of the Coalition to Preserve the Palisades Cliffs – expressed her concern over the Bayonne portion of the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway being contaminated by Exxon.

Additionally, Michael Rusigno, a 20-plus year Bayonne resident who founded the Bayonne Nature Club with his wife, expressed his frustration with the potential settlement by clearly stating: “this deal stinks as bad as the bank vaults in Hell where ExxonMobil keep their money.”

Furthermore, Matthew Zwerling, a-20-year-old Flemington resident that attends the University of Florida, said the Exxon settlement fulfills stereotypes people outside of New Jersey have regarding the Garden State.

The last speaker of the day, Evelyn Sabol, 79, who has lived in Bayonne her whole life, actually stood up for ExxonMobil in this situation.

Before calling it a day, we also caught up with McKeon to get his take on the state’s decade-long litigation with Exxon.


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  1. Thank you, big time, John Heinis for covering this monumentally important story. Kudos to all who attended including member Peggy Wong.

  2. Actually I was at hearing as a board member of the Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy. When you wear multiple hats, sometimes people confuse you with one of the other hats, as was the case here. I spoke of the $225M settlement and how when its actually reduced to $50M as Senator Lesniak testimony revealed, that this smaller pie must be shared with many environmental priorities. The unfinished Bayonne waterfront walkway that links it to the Bayonne Bridge may never be finished in our lifetime or our children’s lifetime if this settlement is not changed and increased to match the damage done by Exxon. If anyone has ever spent any time on the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, its a quality of life benefit for our NJ residents and Bayonne residents desire have a finished walkway. As a Bayonne resident wisely said, “We have to clean up after our dogs when we walk them, Exxon should be made to clean up this environmental mess they created.”

    • Thank you for all that you do, Peggy in service to our higher aspirations for The Commons and the proper maintenance, planning, and activity thereof.