Washington Senator Patty Murray as well as eastern Washington’s Cathy McMorris Rodgers and western Oregon’s Peter DeFazio recently led a bipartisan letter to the Biden administration asking the president to prioritize the renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty. Lawmakers have also asked for regular updates on the status of negotiations on the treaty’s modernization.
“Modernizing this treaty is critically important to protecting our region from flood control risks and ensuring we can continue to lead with clean, renewable, reliable, and affordable hydropower,” stated McMorris Rogers, “The status quo and lack of communication are unacceptable. It’s time for American leadership to step up and reach an agreement that benefits the entire Pacific Northwest in the 21st Century.”
Negotiated in 1964, the Columbia River Treaty’s flood control provisions are set to expire in 2024. Without a renegotiation, the uncertain future is raising concern over flood control risk and the lack of an overall plan.
Senator Murray said, “The renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty has been years in the making and after consistent bipartisan, regional communication that has weighed power, flood control, and ecosystem concerns, it’s time to finalize these negotiations … I hope and expect the Biden administration will work with Tribes and stakeholders to quickly reach a comprehensive renegotiation of the treaty while keeping Congress abreast of its progress.”
The Pacific Northwest’s utility sector and economy are much different than almost 60 years ago when the treaty was negotiated, the letter stated. Population growth, changing weather patterns, clean energy requirements and coal plant retirements have driven the transformation. The Canadian Entitlement, the power benefits sent to Canada as part of the treaty, are supposed to be equitable but lawmakers claim it’s now grossly out of balance. Some estimate the U.S. is paying Canada over $150 million more than it should be per year.
In addition to McMorris Rodgers, DeFazio, and Murray, the letter was signed by Washington Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Jamie Herrera Beutler, Dan Newhouse, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Marilyn Strickland; Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Oregon Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Cliff Bentz , Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader; Idaho Representatives Russ Fulcher, and Mike Simpson; Montana Representative Matthew Rosendale
Click Here to read the entire letter.
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