Aron Discusses Exxon Settlement, Pinelands Nomination, PA Reform

A lot happened at the State House today. That’s where NJTV News Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron was. He discussed what went on with Anchor Mary Alice Williams.

Aron said passions were high on a number of issues, including the debate over the ExxonMobil settlement. “Part of this ExxonMobil debate was a resolution that would call on the judge who’s gonna decide on whether to accept or reject the settlement next month to reject it and Kevin O’Toole who was very passionate said first of all $225 million is almost all that we’ve received in fines since 1982 so it’s a good number, don’t laugh at it even though you say it’s only three cents on the dollar,” Aron explained.

O’Toole also said it was inappropriate for the Senate to intervene in an ongoing judicial matter, but Aron said Senate President Steve Sweeney pointed out that they do have that right. The resolution passed 24-0 with all the Democrats voting for it and all the Republicans abstaining.

Aron said there were a lot of environmentalists present at the State House to discuss Gov. Chris Christie’s nomination of Robert Barr to the Pinelands Commission. Barr is the legislative aid to state Sen. Jeff Van Drew and it’s unknown if he will support the proposed natural gas pipeline. Four former governors released a letter saying the Senate should block Barr’s nomination, but members of the Senate narrowly approved it 21-17. Van Drew and Sweeney both supported the measure.

“And when that happened, there was an outcry from the environmentalists — ‘Shame on Sweeney. We’ll remember when you run for governor,'” Aron said.

Debate over the Port Authority reform bill override attempt also happened today. Aron said at the heart of the debate is who will control the future of the agency. “There was the legislative bill. The two governors had a task force. Tom Kean says he’s taking the best of both bills. It’s unclear where this goes from now,” Aron said.