Home>Congress>Booker, Malinowski back shut down of Lukoil gas stations in N.J. as part of sanctions against Russia

A Lukoil gas station on McCarter Boulevard in Newark. (Photo: Google Maps).

Booker, Malinowski back shut down of Lukoil gas stations in N.J. as part of sanctions against Russia

By David Wildstein, March 03 2022 6:38 pm

Economic sanctions against Russia for their invasion of Ukraine is already impacting small businesses in New Jersey, with the Newark City Council voting on Tuesday to suspend the business licenses of Lukoil gas stations in the state’s largest city.

But U.S. Senator Cory Booker and Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) said that employees of the Lukoil gas stations in Newark and in more than 100 other locations across the state will be able to find new jobs.

“This is the good news,” Booker said.  “The demand for workers right now is really, really high.  People are desperate to hire folks.”

Malinowski said that the goal of sanctions is not to punish workers and that Lukoil might be among the few New Jersey businesses that might be effected.

“We have plenty of gas stations.  There are franchise opportunities in this country that are not Lukoil,” he said.  “I think the bigger implications for all of us for our economy have to do with energy prices.”

Lukoil North America is part of PJSC Lukoil, a Russian oil and gas company strongly tied to Russian oligarchs connected to President Vladimir Putin.  Individual stations are owned by franchisees.

The two New Jersey lawmakers said the bigger issue involves massive profits by big oil companies at the expense of small businesses who are paying higher energy costs.

“They are taking advantage of us, and it’s because we don’t have a fair and free market.  We don’t have competition,” Booker said.  “We’ve allowed them to consolidate and become so powerful in anybody in their DC who sees their lobbyists lineup, where they spend hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying us.  You understand the kind of power that they have within the American context.”

Malinowski wants President Joe Biden to ban the importation of Russian oil to the United States but acknowledged that the move would be largely symbolic.

“If we did it, other countries would simply buy that Russian oil, so it wouldn’t necessarily cost Putin a penny,” Malinowski explained.

Instead, Malinowski prefers sanctions on Russian oil exports.

“There are some people who are very sincere in urging us to do this because it’s a way of denying Putin more money for its war chest,” he said.  “But I think there’s also a partisan element to it in the sense that there are there are folks belonging to the other party who would like to push President Biden to put in place an oil embargo and then to blame President Biden for the inevitable increase in gas prices that Americans will face at the pump.”

Booker and Malinowski made their comments at a roundtable sponsored by Invest in America Now to discuss the impact of small businesses in New Jersey by the American Rescue Plan.

According to Invest in America Now, more than 49% of all New Jersey workers statewide are employed by small businesses, and that more than 163,000 new business applications were filed in New Jersey.

Booker applauded the legislation as a way to “get a lot of resources back into our state, to our small businesses, to our restaurants, to our venues.”

“Small businesses drive not only our nation’s economy, but again, that deep character in heritage of America,” Booker said.  “Mom and pop shops then lie or main streets in every small town, in city, throughout New Jersey, family run restaurants, the offices that are tucked away in the corner building, they’re doing incredible work.”

Also on Thursday, Malinowski and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) introduced a bill that would seize and repurpose assets from oligarchs connected to Putin.

“It would be fitting and right to use the wealth that supported Putin’s regime to rebuild the country Putin is destroying,” Malinowski said.   “The Ukrainian people should see the boats, planes, and villas of Putin’s enablers being seized and sold, and they should know that the proceeds will help their country and cause.”

Spread the news: