Reps. Peter DeFazio (OR-4) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), co-chairs of the Northwest Energy Caucus, applauded the start of formal re-negotiations between the United States and Canada on the Columbia River Treaty, May 29 and 30 in Washington, DC.
“After working diligently for several years to bring Canada to the negotiating table, I’m pleased that Canada has finally agreed to start these talks, which are of vital importance to the Pacific Northwest,” said DeFazio. “It is imperative that we ensure that any updated treaty is beneficial for both the United States and Canada, including the end of the “Canadian Entitlement”, which would save Pacific Northwest ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars. I’m hopeful the negotiations are completed quickly and provide a fair agreement for both nations.”
“The Columbia River Treaty, and the relationship between the U.S. and Canada, plays a critical role in the lives and livelihoods of people here in Eastern Washington and the entire Pacific Northwest,” said McMorris Rodgers. “With Canada officially announcing they will be entering re-negotiations with the U.S., it’s my hope we can update and rebalance the terms of this agreement so it can remain mutually-beneficial into the 21st century. I’m proud to work with Rep. Peter DeFazio to get the U.S. and Canada to the table to re-negotiate this treaty and work in a bipartisan fashion to build a better future for the Pacific Northwest.”
The Columbia River Treaty, first negotiated in 1964, set up a flood control and power-sharing agreement between the United States and Canada. While the terms laid out in the original treaty provided mutual benefits for both nations, the deal today gives an unfair advantage to Canada, forcing consumers in the Pacific Northwest to pay Canada for downstream power benefits. The treaty is slated to end in 2024.
Rep. DeFazio and McMorris Rodgers have fought for years for Canada to renegotiate the treaty and provide an equitable result for the United States. In February of 2016, the two wrote a letter to President Obama in which they said, “The agreement between Canada and the United States serves as a framework for the mutual benefit of both countries, providing low-cost hydropower generation, flood control, and economic growth.”
In March of 2016, they met with Canadian Members of Parliament to discuss the need for both the U.S. and Canada to come back to the negotiating table. In October of 2017, DeFazio and McMorris Rodgers wrote to Ambassador David MacNaughton to again urge for re-negotiation.
The two have also held numerous meetings and calls with U.S. State Department officials to emphasize the importance of this treaty to the Pacific Northwest.