Chris Christie sent New Jersey up the river with the Exxon oil spill settlement, and the Republicans in the State Assembly refused to hold him accountable.

The legal battle between the state of New Jersey and Exxon has been pending in the courts of New Jersey for decades, spanning multiple governors. Our state had vigorously pursued a just settlement from the oil giant since the early 1990s, and was on the verge of an historic victory for New Jersey’s environment and taxpayers. That is, until Governor Christie decided to use the Exxon deal to his own benefit, thereby squandering a chance for New Jersey to fund oil spill clean ups and win sorely needed funds for New Jersey’s environment.

The state pursued damages of $8,900,000,000 from Exxon, covering the costs of cleaning up the spill and also compensating the state for environmental and economic damages. Then Christie announced they had reached a settlement for…$250 million. That would be less than 3% of what the state was seeking in damages.

Sign Up for E-News

What changed? Did the state’s case suddenly weaken? That seems unlikely, but we simply do not know because the Christie administration has refused to explain what prompted them to suddenly settle for such a small amount. Governor Christie has labeled the settlement “historic,” but that is only true in the sense that it is an historic giveaway to big oil.

Democrats in the New Jersey legislature have rightfully fought back against this deal. Both the Assembly and Senate passed resolutions condemning the settlement and urging the judge in the case to reject it. The representatives from the 21st District, Jon Bramnick and Nancy Munoz, voted against fighting the deal.

I am running for the State Assembly to protect NJ citizens from such recklessness and get New Jersey's economy back on track.

-Jill LaZare is a candidate for New Jersey State Assembly in District 21.