Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Isle motorists urged
to push for lower gas prices

By Bruce Dunford
Associated Press

It's time for Hawaii motorists to call their lawmakers if they want to stop paying the nation's highest price for gasoline, Attorney General Earl Anzai said yesterday.

"I would hope that the public would understand that gasoline costs less or the same to produce it on the West Coast so there's no reason for them to be paying these high prices other than high profits," he said. "I think if they understand that, they'll make themselves known to the people that need to know."

To spread the word about the administration's proposal, Anzai plans a series of news conferences on Maui and Kauai on today, and in Hilo tomorrow.

"My job is to get the facts out and I assume the public is going to do something about it," he said.

Motorists statewide will need to make their voices heard to offset the political power of the giant oil companies, Anzai said.

Anzai appeared before three Senate committees yesterday, outlining a new proposal to cap wholesale and retail gasoline prices in the islands. The cap would be tied to prevailing gasoline prices up and down the West Coast, something Anzai said would have saved Hawaii drivers an average of 16 cents per gallon.

Sen. Fred Hemmings, R-Kailua-Waimanalo, called Anzai's plan "ludicrous."

"If you apply the formula, the present price on Oahu would be $1.64. I bought a tank of gas for $1.58 the last time at Aloha Petroleum" which would be put out of business if the retail price is regulated, Hemmings said.

Before Anzai's gas cap proposal this week, it appeared lawmakers were ready to bypass any price regulation this year and instead propose further study of the issue.

Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Chairman Ron Menor, D-Waipahu-Crestview-Mililani, said Anzai's proposal is so different from earlier proposals he has scheduled a public hearing for 6 p.m. tomorrow.

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