McMorris Rodgers: The Columbia River Treaty Must Reflect the Needs of Eastern Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Chair of the House Republican Conference, today submitted a statement for the record at the Natural Resources Committee Field Hearing in Pasco, Washington. The hearing examined the future of the US-Canada Columbia River Treaty. The treaty has been an important priority for McMorris Rodgers during her time in Congress.

Here is an excerpt from the statement:

“For the last sixty years, the Columbia River Treaty has provided a framework for the United States and Canada to promote the production of clean, renewable, and affordable hydropower. Hydropower is not only vital to Eastern Washington but Washington State gets over 75% of its power from this clean and renewable source of energy. In Central and Eastern Washington, the Columbia and Snake River system through irrigation, transformed a dry, barren desert with sagebrush to one of the most productive agriculture regions in the world. The low price of hydropower brought high tech companies like Google and Yahoo to relocate their servers here and brought manufacturing facilities like the BMW plant in Moses Lake. In addition, the Columbia River Treaty has provided greater protection for the Pacific Northwest against severe flooding.

“… As the United States continues to work through the future of the Columbia River Treaty with Canada, I want to ensure that the treaty reflects the true needs of the Pacific Northwest and Eastern Washington.”

See the Congresswoman’s full statement below.

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House Natural Resources Committee

Oversight Field Hearing on: “The future of the US-Canada Columbia River Treaty-Building on

60 years of Coordinated Power Generation and Flood Control”

Monday, December 9, 2013

Pasco, Washington

Statement for the Record by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers

I appreciate the opportunity to submit a statement before the House Natural Resources Committee regarding the importance of the United States-Canada Columbia River Treaty and its effect on Eastern Washington.

Eastern Washington and the Pacific Northwest depend on a healthy Columbia River system to provide national energy independence, promote public safety, and protect infrastructure. In addition, the Columbia River plays a vital role in the economy of the Pacific Northwest, promoting increased economic growth and development by providing low-cost energy, specifically hydropower, and dependable irrigation and navigation channels.

For the last sixty years, the Columbia River Treaty has provided a framework for the United States and Canada to promote the production of clean, renewable, and affordable hydropower. Hydropower is not only vital to Eastern Washington but Washington State gets over 75% of its power from this clean and renewable source of energy. In Central and Eastern Washington, the Columbia and Snake River system through irrigation, transformed a dry, barren desert with sagebrush to one of the most productive agriculture regions in the world. The low price of hydropower brought high tech companies like Google and Yahoo to relocate their servers here and brought manufacturing facilities like the BMW plant in Moses Lake. In addition, the Columbia River Treaty has provided greater protection for the Pacific Northwest against severe flooding.

For the past few years, Bonneville Power Administration and the U.S. Corps of Engineers, along with key stakeholders including representatives from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, representatives from 10 federal agencies and 15 Native American Tribes have been reviewing the provisions contained in the Columbia River Treaty. I applaud the time and effort they have given to this process. As the United States continues to work through the future of the Columbia River Treaty with Canada, I want to ensure that the treaty reflects the true needs of the Pacific Northwest and Eastern Washington.

Specifically, as we consider updating the Columbia River Treaty, we need to modernize the original goals to make power generation, flood control, and overall water management more efficient. It is important that neither the United States nor Canada insert additional domestic goals independent of the original purpose of the Treaty. Moving forward, it is also important that the Columbia River Treaty addresses the need to rebalance the payments to Canada for downstream power generation benefits and long-term flood control operations. With assured flood control set to expire in 2024, it is important that the United States and Canada agree to a framework for how future flood control needs will be addressed.

Eastern Washington depends on a healthy Columbia River system to provide low-cost energy, irrigation, and navigation. As such, I want to ensure that as we consider modernizing the Columbia River Treaty, it promotes a more cost-effective, sustainable hydropower system, in addition to providing reliable flood risk management plan.

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