Public Hearing for Bill 320

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Yesterday a public hearing for Bill 320-36 took place in which representatives from the Attorney General’s office were present – discussing written testimonies provided by one of the fuel companies.

PNC’s Althea Engman has the details on the story.

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No fuel companies were present to give verbal testimonies, to which Senator Brown responded that she was disappointed that there aren’t more people in attendance from private sectors; however, ExxonMobil was able to provide a written testimony for the hearing while there was no response from IP&E and South Pacific Petroleum.

Senator Joanne Browne stated, “I have a certain distrust to fuel companies myself because I don’t see them accounting publicly for the continue consistent price increase that they seem to do at the same time but its like they are covering each other well we are not gonna unfair advantage my company vs your company we’ll just equally raise our gas prices and we’ll be fine and the consumers are left with the short end you know they presented written testimonies but they don’t show up cause I’m sure they don’t want to be asked any other questions but at the same time our consumers continue to be burdened”

Should the bill pass, the OAG would oversee and collect data in the global oil and gas industry market in which representatives from the AG’s office added that based on the testimony they gave that they would need additional support to fulfill the responsibilities.

Moreover, during the hearing, Senator Taitauge shared her concerns regarding Exxon Mobil’s testimony.

Specifically in the part where it states that the “Bill does not address the main driver of high prices at the pump, which is driven by the complex international dynamics” and that “the bill’s proposed pricing mechanism could have a negative impact on Mobil Oil Guam Inc.’s ability to continue operations in Gua, and the Upper Pacific Islands, which in turn could affect the community’s access to a safe a reliable fuel supply.

Senator Telo Taitauge stated, ” I just don’t see us doing something to jeopardize our business communities just after the countless bills we put forward to actually lower BPTs for small businesses even raise the extension higher than 250 to 500 other small business, we are trying to help these companies out and and he we are dictating how they’re supposed to run their business.”

Senator Taitauge added that her questions and concerns are more targeted to the fuel companies and that it’s hard to ask questions about testimony made by someone who isn’t present.

Towards the end of the public hearing, Senator Clynt Ridgell, the sponsor of this bill, added that he wished the three major oil companies on island could attend the public hearing to share more information on how the industry works .

Senator Clynt Ridgell stated, “I wish they were here to answer the questions, it would make it easier if we could discuss with them how they determine their prices, it would give the public, it would make the public feel more at ease that they are not being ripped off.”

Ridgell added that he understands there are issues with wanting to protect how you come up with the cost but at the same time these oil companies are asking and requesting for tax breaks where they do share some information with tax breaks but not anything else.

Reporting for PNC News
I’m Althea Engman

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Althea Engman or as she is referred to as Thea joined the PNC team in August of 2021 as their youngest reporter and after a few months she was given the opportunity to be their weather girl. She currently attends the University of Guam while working at Sorenson. Her hobbies include dancing, creating content for social media, as well modeling on the side, she also is a big dog lover. Before working for PNC, she didn’t think about pursuing a career in journalism or a related field but it has helped her figure out a better career path. She covers a wide variety of news beats with a focus on legislation and lifestyle.