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Be wary of a new treaty’s burdens

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International treaties are not casual documents. They are more than regulation, more than state law. The Constitution gives them weight. They are not easily made, not easily changed. Obligating the people of the Northwest by international treaty to finance assistance for their own country’s fish runs, beyond the billions already spent, beyond the perpetual legal burdens they already carry, should not be done lightly.

It may happen, if the draft recommendation for a new Columbia River Treaty released Friday can be interpreted with accuracy. The draft recommendation expresses the desire to end by 2024 the current treaty between Canada and the United States governing management of the Columbia, replacing it with a new agreement. The recommendation is compiled by the United States Entity (Corps of Engineers, Bonneville Power Administration) with input from the Sovereign Review Team (tribes, states, agencies). A final recommendation to the State Department is due by December.

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