(Reuters) - New Jersey officials said on Thursday that ExxonMobil had agreed to pay $225 million to the state to settle a long-standing lawsuit over environmental damage from its refinery operations and service stations through the state.
The state would not receive money from the deal until fiscal 2016 at the earliest, and the accord must be approved by the judge overseeing the 2004 lawsuit after a public comment period, according to a statement from acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin.
The New York Times last week reported a pending agreement in the long-running lawsuit, which was potentially worth nearly $9 billion. That prompted questions about why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's administration would settle for so little after such a hard-fought legal battle.
Christie is a likely Republican contender in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Democrats, who lead New Jersey's legislature, have said they will intervene in the lawsuit and have scheduled a March 19 hearing to probe the reasons behind the deal.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Von Ahn)