The Lambertville Pipeline Committee met with a representative of U.S. Senator Cory Booker this week to talk about the city’s concern about PennEast in general, but also specifically about the impacts to the drinking water site and Suez.
I won’t go into a lot of detail, we were promised some help and hopefully that will go somewhere. But it was clear that the Senator would not come out against the pipeline, a position that we knew going into the meeting.
Even so, it’s unsettling when you figure out why various politicians won’t come out against projects. It seems you always just have to follow the money.
One of the people associated with Senator Booker is the Rev. M. William Howard. When Mr. Booker was Mayor of Newark, Howard was tapped to lead his transition team.. In fact, the Senator considers Mr. Howard a mentor to him.
As it turns out, Rev. Howard also sits on the Board of Directors of New Jersey Resources:
New Jersey Resources is of course a 20% owner in PennEast, and its subsidiary New Jersey Natural Gas is the largest customer with 18% of the total volumes going to them.
In his role of director, Rev. Howard has been granted several thousand shares of stock which are currently valued at close to $470,000 at Friday’s close. He recently sold 2,000 shares to net $70,000 in cash.
There is no impropriety here on the surface, unlike others such as Thomas Bracken and his endless promotional campaign for PennEast without disclosing his own $1.5 million interest in it.
But even so, this dense web of financial interests is troubling. Whenever you wonder about a politicians’ position on an issue that seems to be a little out of character or somewhat unusual, it seems all you have to do is follow the money, and all will be made clear.