Senators send HOVENSA demands to governor
Published: October 1, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Senate has adopted a resolution that lays out what changes lawmakers want to see in the proposed Fourth Amendment Agreement with HOVENSA and urges Gov. John deJongh Jr. to re-examine negotiations with the company.
The resolution urges the governor to adopt its recommendations to incorporate into a new agreement.
The Senate on Aug. 7 rejected the proposed agreement with HOVENSA that deJongh's administration had negotiated, with senators citing various issues they were concerned about.
Later in August, Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone sent the governor a letter summarizing those concerns.
Lawmakers have said they met twice with the governor since then, but did not reach consensus.
Tensions between the two branches of government over the rejected agreement have boiled over at times.
Last week, the governor took to the airwaves to chastise senators again about their failure to ratify it.
In a letter from the governor to Malone that Sen. Terrence Nelson released last week, deJongh outlines issues senators raised about the agreement and said that he is willing to try to get "clarifications and confirmations" from HOVENSA on them, provided he gets "written assurance" from Malone that a majority of senators will approve and ratify the agreement if they receive clarifications.
Senators presented the resolution as a means of outlining what they want to see in a renegotiated agreement.
The issues outlined in the resolution include:
- The administration taking "all necessary steps" to obtain exclusive control of nearly $5 million, along with interest, in a third-party escrow account for Supplemental Environment Project funds HOVENSA paid as part of a consent decree. HOVENSA is to agree to be relieved from any future involvement with the funds.
- If HOVENSA has not been sold after a year, HOVENSA should give the government access to the channel and dock facilities while it operates a storage terminal business.
- In any negotiation with any new owner or operator of the refinery, the government should require that the current exclusivity held by HOVENSA in the channel and dock facilities that service the refinery will be eliminated.
- No new owner should be permitted to allow HOVENSA to continue operating a storage terminal on the refinery site unless the government gives consent.
- HOVENSA should pay $14 million annually as a payment in lieu of property taxes to the government.
- The Legislature's position is that the temporary adjustment in property tax payments from a section of the proposed agreement "is only a deferral of the unpaid amount until the refinery is sold or ceases to operate as an oil storage terminal, or until Aug. 15, 2019, whichever first occurs." When that happens, HOVENSA, according to the resolution, should make a lump sum payment to the government so that the government recoups the value of the deferred payments.
- The recouped value of the deferred payments should include interest.
- The refinery should be marketed and sold for uses other than oil refining.
- HOVENSA should have no objection to opening the sales process to buyers considering alternative uses.
- It is the position of the Legislature that the decision on whether to allow uses other than refining is to be made by the government, subject to the approval of the Legislature in a new concession agreement with a new owner.
- HOVENSA should make fuels available to the government and public at its fuel loading rack as long as HOVENSA is operating a fuel storage facility there.
- The $500,000 offered by HOVENSA for scholarship purposes should be increased to $1 million.
- The agreement should not cause a loss of legal rights by the parties if the refinery doesn't sell.
The resolution passed early this morning, by a 10-4 vote, with one senator absent. Senators Craig Barshinger, Judi Buckley, Diane Capehart, Donald Cole, Clifford Graham, Alicia Hansen, Myron Jackson, Malone, Clarence Payne III and Sammuel Sanes voted yes. Senators Kenneth Gittens, Terrence Nelson, Tregenza Roach and Janette Millin Young voted no. Sen. Nereida Rivera-O'Reilly was absent because of a death in the family.
- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email email@example.com.