Columbia River Treaty Negotiations

Van Ness Feldman is providing counsel to the Columbia River Power Group, a coalition of 70 Pacific Northwest utilities and industry associations that constitute 6.4 million electric utility customers, as the United States prepares to renegotiate the 1960s-era Columbia River Treaty with Canada. Representation includes providing advice to the nature and scope of issues related to the termination of the treaty and considerations on whether the Treaty should be expanded to include eco-system management, including the Endangered Species Act and Northwest Power Planning Act.

The Columbia River Treaty, originally signed in 1964, is an international agreement between Canada and the United States for the cooperative development and operation of the water resources of the Columbia River Basin for the benefit of flood control and power. Over fifty years after its original signing, numerous unforeseen issues have arisen, and while the Treaty has no expiration date, it can be terminated as early as 2024 with a 10-year notice. The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will make a recommendation to the U.S. Department of State on the Treaty’s future by the end of 2013.  Van Ness Feldman will also advocate for an equitable allocation of Treaty benefits between the U.S. and Canada, including a potential re-evaluation of the now 50-year-old assumptions used for calculating the Canadian Entitlement, or money paid to Canada from the U.S.

Former U.S. Congressman Norm Dicks, who joined Van Ness Feldman after 36 years representing Washington State, will assist in elevating the concerns of electric customers before a final recommendation is sent to the U.S. State Department later this year.