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U.S. House Passes Annual Defense Authorization Bill To Further Address Red Hill Fuel Crisis Including Health Impacts

The Measure Increases U.S. Presence in the Indo-Pacific by Investing in Our Alliances and Partnerships

(Washington, DC) – Congressman Ed Case (HI-01) announced that the full U.S. House has approved the $847.3 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including his priorities relating to closing Red Hill, strengthening America’s national defense in the Indo-Pacific and improving the Department of Defense’s (DoD) relationship with the local community. 

The bill retains nine floor amendments introduced by Case and approved during earlier House consideration. 

“Through the FY 2023 NDAA, the Hawai‘i Congressional delegation reaffirms our efforts to ensure the closure of Red Hill and ensure transparency in the defueling, closure and remediation process. Equally important, it reinforces the importance of tracking the long-term health of those affected by the crisis,” said Case.  

The bill’s Red Hill provisions include: 

·         Requiring the Navy to issue a publicly available report every quarter on the status of the effort to close the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.  

·         Directing the DoD to determine the need, number and optimal locations of additional sentinel or monitoring wells to detect and track the movement of fuel that has leaked into the ground, in coordination with the United States Geological Survey. 

·         Requiring the DoD to conduct a hydrology study around Red Hill and assess how best to address the water needs on O‘ahu and mitigate water shortages, to include water treatment plants or the placement of a new drinking water shaft. 

·         Directing the DoD to track the long-term health implications of fuel leaks from Red Hill for members of the armed forces and their dependents in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Hawai‘i Department of Health. 

The bill also supports Case’s continued efforts to strengthen the military’s community engagement efforts as it works to rebuild trust with the people of Hawai‘i following the Red Hill fuel leaks.  

“The military must do everything it can to earn back trust from our communities,” said Case. “This can only be done by coordinated performance and partnership among all services over time.”  

Case introduced and secured passage of provisions that require the DoD to develop and implement a Hawai‘i-specific community engagement strategy that strengthens the ties between the military and the local community and improves coordination across military departments on consultation and engagement initiatives. Additionally, the NDAA requires the DoD to increase cultural support to military units in the state, which includes training on Hawaiian culture and improved consultation with the Native Hawaiian community. Finally, the bill requires the military to enhance defense cooperation with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region. 

The bill also authorizes crucial investments in America’s global network of alliances and partnerships, including more than $11.5 billion in funding for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative. Additionally, the bill expands DoD funding to include support for U.S. Coast Guard personnel and capabilities in the participation of training, exercises and other activities with foreign partners in the region. 

“Military installations in Hawai‘i play a crucial role in keeping the U.S. safe and protecting our national interests worldwide,” said Case, “especially given the shift in our national security strategies and resources to the Indo-Pacific. As the only state located in the Indo-Pacific, it is instrumental in deterring and denying our adversaries’ ability to engage in acts of aggression or coercion against our partners and allies. The FY 2023 NDAA reaffirms the importance of the U.S. presence, and that presence begins in our state.” 

To strengthen America’s presences in the Indo-Pacific, the NDAA also requires the military to submit a report on the advisability of enhancing defense cooperation with partners in the region and includes expanding the role of the National Guard in support of these initiatives, especially in Oceania. This includes a pilot program to enhance DoD engagement with young civilian defense and security leaders in the Indo-Pacific region.  

Additionally, it directs the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide an independent assessment of the resources needed to fulfill the Indo-Pacific Strategy.

Finally, the bill directs the military to increase its support for the Compact negotiations with the Freely Associated States - the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau – that are essential to our country’s national security.  

In addition to the provisions described above, the bill includes the following amendments secured by Case: 

·         Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP) Facilities Review: Directs the Navy to improve the SIOP’s efforts to optimize facilities and replace outdated equipment, such as those at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility. 

·         Improving Oversight of Large Construction Projects: Requires the DoD to review the Navy’s ability to manage, supervise and inspect projects that cost more than $500 million, to include SIOP projects in Hawai‘i.  

·         Underground Facilities in Hawai‘i: Requires the military to survey underground tunnels and facilities like the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility located in Hawai‘i. 

·         Assessing Future Investments on Guam: Requires the military to brief Congress on required infrastructure investment in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands based on emerging threats in the region and the ongoing relocations of U.S. service members from Japan.  

·         Joint Base Military Construction Assessment: Requires the DoD to review prioritization of military construction, maintenance and upgrades of joint base infrastructure and facilities, with a particular focus on facilities belonging to subordinate services relative to the lead service on joint bases, such as Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. 

The bill includes various other programs, provisions and funding affecting Hawai‘i and the Indo-Pacific, as follows: 

  ·         Authorizes $873 million in military construction projects and acquisition in Hawai‘i, including: 

o    Pearl Harbor Dry Dock: $446 million 

o    Pearl Harbor Missile Magazines: $10 million 

o    Pearl Harbor Primary Electrical Distribution Upgrade: $25 million 

o    Pearl Harbor Water Line Upgrades: $10 million 

o    Pearl Harbor Shipyard Waterfront Production Facility: $40 million 

o    Maui Secure Integration Support Lab: $89 million 

o    Marine Corps Base Kāne‘ohe Bay Bachelor Enlisted Quarters: $58 million 

o    Marine Corps Base Kāne‘ohe Bay C-40 Hangar: $40 million 

o    Kapolei National Guard Readiness Center: $29 million 

o    Tripler Army Medical Center Water System Upgrades: $38 million  

o    Fort Shafter Water System Upgrades: $33 million  

o    Schofield Barracks Company Operations Facility: $25 million 

o    Energy Resilience on Pearl Harbor: $30 million 

·         Authorizes the transfer of the former Barber’s Point utility system to the State of Hawai‘i. 

·         Authorizes the construction of two new Virginia-Class Submarines that will be maintained at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility. 

·         Expresses Congressional support for the U.S. defense relationship with Taiwan, a key effort for the Hawai‘i National Guard. 

·         Requires U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to provide a report to Congress describing the support and sustainment for critical capabilities necessary to meet operational requirements in a conflict. 

·         Requires an independent study on fuel distribution logistics in the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility and quarterly reporting on the progress made in establishing permanent fuel logistics points. 

·         Requires the DoD to analyze Chinese influence in the Pacific Islands region in its annual report. 

·         Expresses congressional support for South Korea as a critical ally of the U.S. and requires a briefing on how the DoD will seek to implement the U.S. extended deterrence commitment to Korea.  

·         Secures significant investments in clean energy and energy efficiency at DoD, harnessing solar and electric technologies to ensure that our defense facilities and vehicle fleets are resilient to climate disaster and energy disruptions. 

This year’s bill also supports a 4.6% pay raise for service members and civilians, and additional resources to help ease inflationary pressures. It also directs the Department of Transportation to develop and deliver to Congress a strategy to assist state maritime academies and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in improving the representation in the next generation of the mariner workforce of women and underrepresented communities, to include Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. 

“We need to continue to support our service members and help them through the rising inflation that affects their ability to care for their families,” said Case. “Along with the pay raise, Congress also provided financial support for the commissaries and expanded support for childcare through this bill.” 

Overall, the FY 2023 NDAA authorizes $847.3 billion in discretionary spending for national defense across the DoD, parts of the Department of Energy and other agencies.  

It seeks to restore U.S. alliances and partnerships and strengthen our country’s global competitiveness. This year’s NDAA will fulfill Congress’s constitutional obligation to “provide for the common defense.”  

A summary of the bill is available here