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Senate passes Schatz legislation to fund defueling of Red Hill

The US Senate passed legislation authored by US Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) that provides $100 million in new federal funding to cover the cost of defueling the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility and direct the Department of Defense to comply with the State of Hawai‘i’s emergency public health order.

Sen. Schatz worked closely with bipartisan leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee to include the funding provision in a critical spending bill. The bill now heads to the president’s desk and is set to become law.

“We now have the funding to defuel, and Congress has made its position clear: it’s time for the DoD to drain the tanks and follow the state’s order,” said Senator Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “We still have more work to do, but we are making progress.”

Schatz worked with senior leaders in the Biden Administration and the Senate Appropriations Committee to secure the new funding, which represents the first round of possible funding to defuel Red Hill. Schatz is continuing to work with the White House and congressional leaders to deliver additional funding in the president’s annual budget request and a much larger appropriations package expected to be taken up by Congress next month.

On Thursday, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) released a statement on Senate passage of the continuing resolution-legislation to keep the government funded—which includes $350 million to address the Red Hill crisis.

The legislation, which now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law, includes $250 million in funding for the Navy, Marine Corps, Army, and Air Force to cover expenses incurred related to drinking water contamination and $100 million for the Department of Defense to comply with the State of Hawaii’s emergency order to defuel the Red Hill tanks.

Senator Hirono said she 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. She said:

“The Department of Defense must fully comply with the State of Hawaii’s Executive Order to defuel the tanks at Red Hill and this funding is necessary step to ensure that happens. This crisis has caused significant financial burden and severe hardships for families and businesses in Oʻahu, including the almost 4,000 families who are still displaced. I’m pleased we were also able to secure funding for costs incurred to cover emergencies and extraordinary expenses for families and businesses who have been impacted. The Navy must do everything possible to support families and businesses while they work to defuel the tanks and resolve this crisis as quickly as possible.

“At the same time, given the likely shutdown of Red Hill, DoD must come up with a long-term solution to address the strategic fuel reserve needs of the Indo Pacific region. I will fight to ensure the upcoming NDAA includes necessary provisions to protect Hawaii’s water and our national security.

“The health and safety of Oʻahu residents is my top priority and nothing is more important than protecting access to clean drinking water.”

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/02/19/senate-passes-schatz-legislation-to-fund-refueling-of-red-hill/

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