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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesGovernor 'Disappointed,' but Not Surprised by Senate's Action on Hovensa Deal

Governor 'Disappointed,' but Not Surprised by Senate's Action on Hovensa Deal

Gov. John deJongh Jr. said Thursday he was disappointed, but not surprised, that the Senate had referred the Hovensa amendment to the Committee of the Whole rather than voting on it Wednesday night.

The governor’s comments came in an audio file released Thursday afternoon by Government House.

But the Senate decided that they did not have adequate time to review the proposal. Instead they referred it to the Committee of the Whole – which is the entire Senate, but meeting as a committee instead of as the full deliberative body – to receive further testimony.

Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone also asked deJongh to insert changes requested by the senators into the actual Hovensa agreement and to have the governor’s office resubmit it to the Legislature as a revised agreement. The bill sent to senators this week contained an addendum addressing some of the body’s concerns; however, none of the issues to be addressed were actually incorporated into the agreement itself, Malone said.

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In comments Thursday, the governor said he had hoped the vote would take place Wednesday to begin the process that may eventually result in the sale of the refinery process.

"I’m a little disappointed that the vote didn’t take place," he said. “I’m not surprised by what took place. I very much understand the rules of the Legislature, and it is their rules. … We’ll have a hearing on the fourth of November and I look forward, on that date, to be able to get a vote that will put us in a posture where we can go forward in terms of a sale of the refinery."

There is some interest in the 2,000-acre Hovensa property on St. Croix, and deJongh sounded eager to pursue the sale of the shuttered refinery.

"A lot of the senators have called me and told me about individuals that have contacted them (about the potential refinery sale) and the bankers for the company I think are ready to move forward. So yesterday if we had that approval we could have moved forward," the governor said. "Now we’re just waiting until Nov. 4 to have that action take place and I’m optimistic that the senators will move forward."

DeJongh said this "is just the first step of multiple steps towards getting a new owner but we’ve got to start, and it starts on Nov. 4."

Also in the statement, the governor said the amendment and its clarifications are sufficient, and a new agreement is not required.”

Since the Aug. 7 vote in which the Senate rejected the initial submission of the Fourth Amendment, governor has said he would not open back up the agreement.

“And not just me," he added Thursday. "Hovensa and its owners have said they will not open it back up."

Instead they have prepared clarifications, approved both by the company’s local counsel but signed off on by Hovensa’s owners, deJongh said. Those clarifications, included with the amendment itself in the bill for approval, have the full weight of law and are binding on the company, the governor said.

"They should feel extremely comfortable that we can move forward at that point."

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Gov. John deJongh Jr. said Thursday he was disappointed, but not surprised, that the Senate had referred the Hovensa amendment to the Committee of the Whole rather than voting on it Wednesday night.

The governor's comments came in an audio file released Thursday afternoon by Government House.

But the Senate decided that they did not have adequate time to review the proposal. Instead they referred it to the Committee of the Whole – which is the entire Senate, but meeting as a committee instead of as the full deliberative body – to receive further testimony.

Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone also asked deJongh to insert changes requested by the senators into the actual Hovensa agreement and to have the governor's office resubmit it to the Legislature as a revised agreement. The bill sent to senators this week contained an addendum addressing some of the body's concerns; however, none of the issues to be addressed were actually incorporated into the agreement itself, Malone said.

In comments Thursday, the governor said he had hoped the vote would take place Wednesday to begin the process that may eventually result in the sale of the refinery process.

"I'm a little disappointed that the vote didn't take place," he said. “I'm not surprised by what took place. I very much understand the rules of the Legislature, and it is their rules. ... We'll have a hearing on the fourth of November and I look forward, on that date, to be able to get a vote that will put us in a posture where we can go forward in terms of a sale of the refinery."

There is some interest in the 2,000-acre Hovensa property on St. Croix, and deJongh sounded eager to pursue the sale of the shuttered refinery.

"A lot of the senators have called me and told me about individuals that have contacted them (about the potential refinery sale) and the bankers for the company I think are ready to move forward. So yesterday if we had that approval we could have moved forward," the governor said. "Now we're just waiting until Nov. 4 to have that action take place and I'm optimistic that the senators will move forward."

DeJongh said this "is just the first step of multiple steps towards getting a new owner but we've got to start, and it starts on Nov. 4."

Also in the statement, the governor said the amendment and its clarifications are sufficient, and a new agreement is not required.”

Since the Aug. 7 vote in which the Senate rejected the initial submission of the Fourth Amendment, governor has said he would not open back up the agreement.

“And not just me," he added Thursday. "Hovensa and its owners have said they will not open it back up."

Instead they have prepared clarifications, approved both by the company's local counsel but signed off on by Hovensa's owners, deJongh said. Those clarifications, included with the amendment itself in the bill for approval, have the full weight of law and are binding on the company, the governor said.

"They should feel extremely comfortable that we can move forward at that point."