Pentagon asking for $1B for Red Hill closure
by Kim Jarrett, The Center Square, March 29, 2022
(The Center Square) – The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is asking Congress to add $1 billion to the fiscal year 2023 budget to establish a Red Hill Recovery Fund.
The money would "enable DoD to quickly and flexibly address the health, environmental, and national security needs of the Hawaii community and the department," according to a news release from the DOD.
The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) ordered the U.S. Navy to close the Red Hill Storage facility after water leaked into the water supply on Oahu in November, forcing thousand of residents from their homes.
The fuel storage facility contains "20 steel-lined underground storage tanks encased in concrete" that can hold up to 250 million gallons of fuel, according to its website. The facility has not been in use since December, a Pentagon spokesperson said.
U.S. Navy officials said they were going to protest the DOH's order. On March 7, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Red Hill would be closed.
"No later than May 31, the Secretary of the Navy and Director of the Defense Logistics Agency will provide an action plan for safe and expeditious defueling of the facility, with a completion date target of 12 months," Austin said in the statement announcing the closure. "Then, as soon as we have made corrective actions to ensure that defueling will be safe, we will begin defueling."
An additional $736 million in new money was added to the fiscal year 2022 budget "to support displaced servicemembers, civilians and their families, address drinking water contamination and conduct activities in compliance with the State of Hawaii’s emergency order, according to U.S. Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawaii.
Earlier this year, $403 million in emergency funded was secured as well, Case said.
"Full remediation, defueling and closure of Red Hill and identification of alternative strategic fuel storage capacity in the Indo-Pacific will take sustained federal funding in the billions over several fiscal years”, Case said in a news release. “This new $1 billion fund is a welcome reflection of continued commitment by the department of defense and this administration to achieve all of this.”
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said he backs to proposed spending for Red Hill.
“The president’s budget proposal signals the administration’s support of our efforts to safely defuel and shut down Red Hill," Schatz said in a news release. "Ultimately, Congress holds the purse strings, so I look forward to working with the president as we move our budget and appropriations process forward this year.”
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Case Supports Defense Department's Proposed Additional $1 Billion Fund To Address Red Hill Water Crisis
Case’s Appropriations Committee will review the request as part of the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget request
News Release from Office of Rep Ed Case, Washington, DC, March 28, 2022
(Washington, DC) - Congressman Ed Case (HI-01), a member of the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations responsible for all federal discretionary spending, today endorsed the Biden Administration’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal to allocate $1 billion more to address the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility water contamination crisis.
“Full remediation, defueling and closure of Red Hill and identification of alternative strategic fuel storage capacity in the Indo-Pacific will take sustained federal funding in the billions over several fiscal years”, said Case. “This new $1 billion fund is a welcome reflection of continued commitment by the Department of Defense and this Administration to achieve all of this.”
“I remain fully committed, especially as a member of the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations and of our Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, to supporting and funding all of these efforts. I will carefully review this request and make any adjustments needed to ensure the federal government fulfills its promises to our state.”
The $1 billion Red Hill Recovery Fund is an item in the $773 billion Defense Department budget request that is included in President Biden’s $5.8 trillion Fiscal Year 2023 budget submitted today to Congress.
This funding proposal comes just weeks after Case’s Appropriations Committee provided some $736 million in new funding for Fiscal Year 2022 to support displaced servicemembers, civilians and their families; address drinking water contamination; and conduct activities in compliance with the State of Hawaii’s emergency order. Those funds were in addition to the $403 million in emergency funding obtained in another bill in February 2022, bringing Congress’ total funding for all aspects of Red Hill in the current fiscal year alone to over $1.1 billion.
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Schatz: President Includes $1 Billion To Defuel Red Hill In Annual Budget Proposal
News Release from Office of Sen Brian Schatz, Washington, DC, March 28, 2022
Schatz Worked With Top Administration Officials To Include The Funding In The President’s Budget Request; Budget Proposal Will Now Be Considered In Congress, Where Schatz Continues To Lead Efforts To Secure Funding In Appropriations Committee
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, released the following statement on the inclusion of $1 billion to defuel the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in the president’s annual budget request. Schatz worked closely with senior Biden Administration officials to ensure the new funding was included in the president’s annual budget request.
“The president’s budget proposal signals the administration’s support of our efforts to safely defuel and shut down Red Hill. Ultimately, Congress holds the purse strings, so I look forward to working with the president as we move our budget and appropriations process forward this year.”