I recently attended a meeting of the Legislative Council on River Governance, an organization managed by the Council of State Governments. The Legislative Council on River Governance is a cooperative association of legislators from Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington who meet to discuss common interests and challenges along the Columbia River basin.
The purpose of the Legislative Council on River Governance is to assert state legislative duty and authority over natural resources and river governance in the Columbia and Snake River Basins, and to unite the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington to develop a proactive agenda of legislative action and communications.
We heard an update on the current negotiations regarding the Columbia River Treaty, a compact between the U.S. and Canada which involves water flow, flood control and power generation. These are all important issues to our state.
Other issues we deal with involve:
- The Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act
- Reasserting the state’s authority over its water rights
- The lack of a meaningful role for legislatures and the need for legislative participation in the decision-making process
- State sovereignty issues
- The need to work on a coordinated basis between states
- The fact that states want a place at the table in the federal decision-making process as it relates to state issues
- Protecting what states already have (resource management)
- Tribal relations, and
- Conflicts with federal agencies