March 29, 2022

Senator Hirono Applauds Inclusion of $1 Billion to Close Red Hill in President Biden’s FY2023 Budget Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement applauding the inclusion of $1 billion in funding for Red Hill in President Biden’s fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget proposal, which was released earlier this week. The proposed funding comes in addition to the more than $1 billion for Red Hill included in spending bills signed into law earlier this year.

“The Department of Defense made the right decision in choosing to defuel and permanently close the Red Hill facility, something I urged them to do for weeks leading up to the announcement. Earlier this year, we secured more than $1 billion in funding to begin that process and address the immediate water contamination crisis so that families could safely return to their homes. This was an important first step, but it was clear from the beginning that far more funding will be required to fully resolve this crisis and remediate any environmental contamination concern, which is why I am pleased to see the Biden Administration prioritizing the funds necessary to continue efforts to safely defuel and close Red Hill in its Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal.

“As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure this funding is included in the final appropriations bills we send to the President’s desk. But our work won’t stop there—I will continue to make sure that, once appropriated, the funds are used as intended in a timely manner to safely and efficiently shut down Red Hill and protect our environment.”

Senator Hirono steps on Red Hill:

  • Today, 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.