June 11, 2015

Kilmer, Herrera Beutler Call for Negotiations on the Columbia River Treaty to Begin

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 11, 2015 – The House Appropriations Committee passed a bill that includes a provision authored by Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) to push negotiations forward on the Columbia River Treaty. The report accompanying the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2016 includes language directing the U.S. State Department and other agencies involved to begin working directly this year with Canada on the treaty.

The language calls for the State Department to finish evaluating regional recommendations and incorporate them into treaty negotiations. The Bonneville Power Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put together the “Regional Recommendation for the Future of the Columbia River Treaty after 2024” in 2013.  

“The future of the Columbia River and the Pacific Northwest are tied together,” said Kilmer. “This mighty river powers our region’s innovative businesses and communities, while protecting important ecological resources. That’s why we need a modern Treaty that makes sure we’re striking a fair and equitable balance between our two nations.”

“The Columbia River is central to our way of life in Southwest Washington,” said Herrera Beutler. “Pursuing a new Columbia River Treaty with fair and equitable benefits between the United States and Canada is imperative to securing the future benefits the river brings to our communities – affordable, clean hydro energy, flood management, navigation, irrigation, and ecosystem based management.”

For the past 50 years, the United States and Canada have used the Columbia River Treaty as the blueprint for coordinating hydropower generation and flood control on the Columbia River system. Beginning last year, either country now has the opportunity to seek termination of the Treaty with ten years notice. Taking that action would cause both the United States and Canada to revisit the treaty.

In 2014, Kilmer and Herrera Beutler joined all the other lawmakers representing Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho in urging President Obama to make the future of the Columbia River Treaty a priority for his Administration.