Exxon defends $225M pollution deal with New Jersey, says $8.9B state sought 'not real'

Exxon's top lawyer says a heavily criticized $225 million pollution settlement with the state of New Jersey was reasonable and allowed both sides to move forward.

Jack Balagia (buh-LAHJ'-ee-yah) also told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the $8.9 billion the state initially sought was "not a real number" because it was the result of a flawed calculation and based on a statute that hasn't been used successfully in court.

The settlement announced in March has drawn criticism from lawmakers in both parties who've said the state should have waited for a judge's ruling instead of settling for pennies on the dollar.

Exxon's attorney pointed out that the damage costs are separate from cleanup costs, and that Exxon has spent $260 million to clean up the sites since the 1990s.