U.S. Ready to Start Talks on Columbia River Treaty
Conversation with Secretary of State John Kerry is the culmination of years-long effort
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in a call with U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States is ready to start talks with Canada on the Columbia River Treaty. The call comes just hours after the State Department finalized Circular 175, authorizing talks with Canada to modernize the treaty. Cantwell has for years been urging the State Department to begin the negotiation process.
Updating the Columbia River Treaty will present exciting new economic opportunities for Washington State, as well as providing a new focus on protecting the river’s ecosystem and addressing flood control.
The U.S. and Canada will work together to find win-win solutions to manage the river, looking to cooperate on critical clean energy solutions such as smart grids with intermittent power, grid-scale storage, and clean infrastructure. The Treaty has not been updated since it was first ratified in 1964.
The government of Canada had refused to begin talks until the U.S. finalized its negotiating parameters, which are laid out in a document called a Circular 175.
"The United States is officially ready to move forward on negotiating a new Columbia River Treaty," said Senator Maria Cantwell after hearing the good news from Secretary of State John Kerry. "A new agreement is critical to so many aspects of our Northwest economy. I congratulate the administration on completing the Circular 175 negotiating terms and hope that now the Canadian Government will come to the table and start detailing what a new agreement will look like."
The Circular 175 is based on regional recommendations developed by stakeholders in the Columbia River Basin. The recommendations balance ecosystem functions and community concerns including hydropower generation and flood control.
Cantwell has been on the forefront in the charge to modernize the treaty. Most recently, the Senator led 21 of her Senate and House colleagues in a letter to Secretary Kerry pressing his agency to hasten its finalization of the Circular 175. In March of this year, she spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the need to move forward with negotiations. The Senator continued her push in June, meeting with Canadian Ambassador David MacNaughton to discuss progress on the Canadian side. Last year, Cantwell sent a letter to President Obama with 25 other members of the Pacific Northwest Congressional delegation, urging the Administration to move forward with a strategy for addressing the treaty. In 2014, Cantwell joined with 25 of her colleagues to press for action on moving the process forward.
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