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Sunday, July 21, 2024
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GAS PRICES SPARK CALLS FOR HEARINGS

The low cost of gasoline on St. Croix compared to the high cost in the St. Thomas-St. John district has at least one V.I. senator up in arms.
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg said the average cost of gas on St. Croix is 96 cents per gallon compared to nearly $2 on St. Thomas and St. John. Because of the "outrageous" disparity, he is calling for Senate hearings on the issue.
Andrew Rutnik, commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, agreed with Donastorg that gasoline retailers need to have their pricing scrutinized.
Donastorg, in an Oct. 12 letter to Sen. Gregory Bennerson, chairman of the Government Operations Committee, called for a hearing that includes representatives from Hovensa, gas station owners, the Industrial Development Commission and the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs.
"It is high time that we determine exactly why St. Johnians and St. Thomians are paying nearly twice as much for gasoline as their St. Croix counterparts," Donastorg wrote. "In these fiscally difficult times it is simply shameful that consumers in one district continue to be gouged this way."
Donastorg also requested that Sen. David Jones’ Committee on Economic Development, Agriculture and Consumer Protection look into the price difference at the earliest possible date.
Donastorg recommended that in resolving the issue, the Legislature "must" establish a policy through the IDC, the DLCA or another entity that supports fair fuel pricing throughout the territory.
Meanwhile, Rutnik said that Texaco gas station operators told him Thursday that they will drop the price of gas 10 cents a gallon once they deplete their current inventories.
He also agreed with Donastorg that gas retailers need to be scrutinized to ensure their "profits aren’t out of hand." Rutnik said the main reason for the high prices in the St. Thomas-St. John district was the use of wholesalers between the supplier, Hovensa and the gas stations.
"We need to put some pressure on the wholesalers," Rutnik said.

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