Monday, October 28, 2013
Center for Environmental Law & Policy | Oregon WaterWatch
Pacific Rivers Council | Save Our wild Salmon | Sierra Club
Treaty Power Group proposal would miss opportunities to protect ratepayers, communities, environment in a changing climate
• Pat Ford (SOS) 208.345-9067 firstname.lastname@example.org
• Suzanne Skinner (CELP) 206.829-8366 email@example.com
• Greg Haller (Pacific Rivers) 503.228.3555 firstname.lastname@example.org
• Rhett Lawrence (Sierra Club) 503.238-0442 x304 Rhett.Lawrence@sierraclub.org
Portland – Today Northwest conservation groups called on the U.S. Department of State to continue to move forward with modernizing the Columbia River Treaty. The Bonneville Power Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers have reviewed and gathered regional input on the Columbia River Treaty to advise the State Department on the treaty’s future after 2024. On Friday, October 25, the public comment period closed for the draft of the regional recommendation.
The federal agencies have recommended that the State Department include restoring the ecosystem as a primary purpose of an updated treaty, along with hydropower and flood control, a feature that will make the Treaty a model of international water management. All four Northwest states, 15 Columbia Basin tribes, fishermen and environmentalists support that recommendation.
“Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty is good for our region and our country, our economies and our environment, our cities and farms and salmon," said Pat Ford of Save Our wild Salmon. “As climate change takes further hold in our waters, a new Treaty that keeps ecosystems healthy will be good for all uses, including power production and flood protection.”
Opposing the federal agencies’ recommendations are some utilities who call themselves the Treaty Power Group. The Treaty Power Group has threatened to kill the Treaty to avoid paying for their share of downstream benefits of storing water in British Columbia dams under the current Treaty.
“The Treaty Power Group’s position fails to consider the tremendous economic benefits that the entire region has gotten from the current Treaty in predictable hydropower forecasting and flood control,” said Suzanne Skinner of the Center for Environmental Law and Policy. “If the Treaty Power Group gets its way, the Northwest will suffer. The benefits that the U.S. gets under the Treaty from flood control alone have been estimated as high as $32 billion over the lifetime of the current treaty, and at over $2 billion in 2012.”
“The utilities’ short-sighted position risks great drawdowns of U.S. reservoirs, including non-treaty dams in Idaho and elsewhere in the Basin, which will negatively affect the Columbia River ecosystem and power generation,” said Greg Haller, Conservation Director for the Pacific Rivers Council. “Federal agencies have thus far rejected this extreme position, and rightly so.”
“Citizens of the Columbia Basin care about power bills but also care about healthy rivers,” said Rhett Lawrence, Conservation Director for Sierra Club’s Oregon Chapter. “We must have the Treaty to coordinate the actions of both nations for power generation, flood risk management -- and the health of the Columbia River, including salmon.”
The next step for the United States in modernizing the Columbia River Treaty is for BPA and Army Corps of Engineers (together called the "U.S. Entity") to work with the Sovereign Review Team to review and integrate public comments into the Regional Recommendations by November 14. The U.S. Entity has a stated goal of delivering its Regional Recommendations to the State Department on December 13.
• Sierra Club comment letter on Draft Regional Recommendations 10-25-2013
• Include salmon, climate provisions in river treaty. opinion, Spokesman-Review, 10-28-2013
• Naiads for updates on Treaty and other water issues