July 28, 2022

Hirono Announces $1 Billion for Red Hill Closure in Senate Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced the inclusion of $1 billion in funding for the defueling and closure of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in the Fiscal Year 2023 Department of Defense spending bill released today by the Senate Appropriations Committee. This funding was included pursuant to the amount authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—which Senator Hirono secured as Chair of the Senate Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee. The full Senate is expected to consider this funding measure in a year-end omnibus package later this year. When enacted, this authorization and annual appropriation will give the U.S. Navy the direction and resources it needs to safely defuel and close Red Hill for good.  

“The safe and timely defueling and closure of the Red Hill facility is of the utmost importance for the health and safety of families on Oahu,” said Senator Hirono. “That’s why I pushed DOD to close Red Hill and secured authorization for the $1 billion needed for the facility’s safe closure in this year’s NDAA. Following the request of the Hawaii delegation, the Senate Appropriations Committee provided this critical funding in their released defense appropriations bill. I will keep fighting to ensure the Senate passes this spending measure this year, getting us one step closer to the permanent closure of the massive facility. As we work to advance the closure of Red Hill, the Department of Defense needs to provide a detailed plan for this funding that addresses community concerns and prioritizes the safety of the people of Hawaii.”

In an Armed Services Committee hearing earlier today, Senator Hirono questioned Brendan Owens, nominee to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment, about Red Hill and the Defense Department’s plan to the safe defueling and closure of the facility. Video of that exchange is available here.

Senator Hirono steps on Red Hill:

  • On June 16, she secured several key provisions in the Senate markup of the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) related to Red Hill, including language to authorize $1 billion in funding for the closure of Red Hill, direct DoD to appoint a single point of contact to lead the closure of Red Hill, and establish a water monitoring program at the facility.
  • On April 12, she hosted the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee for a tour of Red Hill.
  • On April 7, questioned Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin about next steps for fuel storage and environmental remediation at Red Hill in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
  • On March 29, Senator Hirono applauded the inclusion of $1 billion in funding to close Red Hill in President Biden’s FY2023 budget.
  • On March 29, Senator Hirono questioned U.S. Commanders about the Department of Defense’s bulk fuel storage strategy in the Pacific in light of the announced closure of Red Hill.
  • On March 10, Senator Hirono questioned U.S. commanders about the Department of Defense’s future fuel storage needs in the pacific following the decision to close Red Hill.
  • On March 9, Senator Hirono released a statement applauding the $686 million in funding for the Red Hill water contamination crisis that was included in the fiscal year 2022 omnibus spending bill.
  • On March 7, Senator Hirono expressed her strong support regarding the Department of Defense’s decision to defuel and permanently shut down the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.
  • On March 3, Senator Hirono sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee and Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment. In her letter, she urged them to support her efforts in ensuring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the resources it needs to continue addressing the water contamination caused by the fuel leak.
  • On February 22, Senator Hirono toured the Red Hill facility and met business owners at the NEX Food Court who have been impacted by the Navy’s contaminated water system.
  • On February 17, Senator Hirono applauded Senate passage of the continuing resolution-legislation to keep the government funded—which included $350 million to address the Red Hill crisis. Senator Hirono will continue to fight for additional funding to defuel safely and for the DoD to develop and implement a long-term plan to meet the strategic fueling needs of the Indo Pacific region in the upcoming fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.
  • On February 11, Senator Hirono released a statement where she reiterated that the State of Hawaii has the authority to shut down Red Hill through its permitting process—and that she will fully support the State’s decision.
  • As the Department of Defense considers options for the long-term strategic fuel reserve needs of the Indo Pacific region, Senator Hirono sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense urging the Department to focus on options that do not rely on Red Hill, given the likelihood that the facility will be shutdown. Senator Hirono requested the briefing and the completed analysis by March 30 to ensure the NDAA includes necessary provisions to protect Hawaii’s water and our national security.
  • During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Senator Hirono highlighted the Red Hill water contamination crisis as she questioned Robert Storch, nominee to be Inspector General of the DoD, and Christopher Lowman, nominee to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment. She inquired about the continuation of the Inspector General (IG) investigation into operations at Red Hill and potential strategies to address any long-term impacts, should the State elect to shut down the Red Hill facility. A link to download video of the exchange is available here.
  • In December, the DoD IG announced their intent to open an investigation into the Navy’s ability to safely operate Red Hill at the request of Senator Hirono and the Hawaii Congressional delegation.  Senator Hirono asked Mr. Storch, if confirmed, whether he would commit to continuing the current investigation into Red Hill. The Senator emphasized the importance of completing the investigation, regardless of whether the facility is allowed to continue its operations.