TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A judge has ruled environmental groups in New Jersey may not intervene in the state’s $225 million settlement with Exxon Mobil over contaminated gas stations and other sites, but they have vowed to keep fighting.

As WCBS 880’s Kelly Waldron reported, Superior Court Judge Michael Hogan ruled that state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union/Elizabeth) and the four groups do not have the standing to bring the lawsuit. It was the second time Hogan denied their petition.

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“All it means is the next move is up to us, and we are going to be appealing the judge’s ruling,” said Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

Tittel said the battle is far from over.

“We believe that this is bad for the environment; bad for the taxpayers of New Jersey,” he said.

Tittel said Exxon should pay the $8.9 billion in damages and clean up the sites, not the $225 million the state agreed to.

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The case stretches back to 2004, when the state Department of Environmental Protection and the state attorney general brought a lawsuit against Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp.

The suit charged that Exxon’s petroleum refining plants in Linden and Bayonne fouled the land and water. The state sought to recoup losses stemming from the lack of use of the land and the contamination of groundwater.

A judge found the company liable at trial, but no damage amount was determined until August.

Attorneys then sent a letter to the judge asking him to refrain from ruling because the two sides had “agreed on the general parameters of a settlement.” They notified him on Feb. 20 that they had reached an agreement.

Gov. Chris Christie’s administration has hailed the settlement as the nation’s second-largest of its kind against a corporate polluter.

The New Jersey Attorney General has declined to comment on the environmental groups’ request and denial.

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