Defense Department quality of life issues for service members, military construction and toxic chemical cleanup are being addressed in President Joe Biden’s fiscal year 2025 budget request.

Brendan Owens, assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and environment, and service officials testified yesterday at a House Readiness Subcommittee regarding this budget request. 

Military construction request totals $15.6 billion. “This includes $1.8 billion for facilities that will enhance and support quality of life, including child development centers, unaccompanied housing, healthcare dining facilities and schools,” Owens said. 

Sustainment funding requested for existing facilities is $13.6 billion, with an additional $6.3 billion in restoration and modernization funding. 

“To ensure these investments are optimized for readiness and quality of life, we’re working with the DOD components to transform our military construction processes and adopting a sustainment management strategy to support consistent and sustained delivery of high performing assets,” Owens said.  

Funding requested for family housing construction, operations and maintenance is $2 billion and nearly $1.1 billion for unaccompanied housing projects.  

“These investments, synchronized with the efforts of the tiger team we established in February, will support our efforts to enhance our oversight of the portfolio. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re all committed to getting after it,” he said. 

“Reliable, adaptable and resilient energy remains essential to military capability and readiness,” Owens said.  

Funding requested for installation energy is $3.8 billion, as well as $3.5 billion for operational energy. 

The department is transitioning from current firefighting foam to alternative foams that don’t contain PFAS, he said. 

PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, is a man-made chemical group that is especially good at extinguishing fires very quickly. However, it is considered to be toxic at certain levels by the EPA.  

The military departments are executing plans to ensure a safe transition that does not degrade readiness, he said.  

Funding requested for environmental cleanup of past DOD activities is $1.6 billion, including nearly $300 million dollars for PFAS cleanup.  

“While we are making progress, EPA’s new drinking water rule will significantly increase the amount of PFAS-impacted drinking water that DOD treats both as a water purveyor and under its cleanup program,” Owens said, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency’s more stringent requirements for the amount of PFAS that can be released into the environment or cleaned up.

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