The Biden administration is asking Congress for $1 billion to respond to the fuel contamination crisis on Oahu.

The money is intended to create a new Red Hill Recovery Fund that will enable the Department of Defense to “quickly and flexibly address the health, environmental, and national security needs of the Hawaii community and the Department,” according to a DOD announcement released on Monday.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III speaks during the Indo-Pacific Command change of command ceremony held at Pearl Harbor.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced the proposed creation of a Red Hill Recovery Fund. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

The official budget request states the money will be “available to the Secretary of Defense for the purpose of conducting activities taken to comply with State of Hawaii Department of Health laws or otherwise determined to be appropriate, including activities relating to improvements of infrastructure and defueling, at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.”

Neither the press release nor the budget request provide a more specific cost breakdown.

In February, the entire Hawaii congressional delegation asked the president in a letter to include funding in his budget request to address the “man-made disaster” that sickened Honolulu families.

“The people of Hawai‘i need to hear from the Administration too that it is the federal government’s policy to address this crisis,” they wrote.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement that the 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,” he said.

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