After NAFTA, A Dam Bad Deal With Canada Remains

After NAFTA, A Dam Bad Deal With Canada Remains


How does this sound for a deal: Get another country to pay for dams you build, generate electricity on those dams, and then sell it back to the country that paid for you to generate it. Then, keep collecting payments from that country nearly two decades after they’ve paid for building the dams. That would be a pretty sweet deal, right?

Well, that is exactly the deal that Canada has gotten with the United States in the Columbia River Treaty. Signed in 1961, the United States agreed to pay for the building of dams in the Columbia River Basin (which is roughly the size of Texas) that Canada would manage to prevent flooding in the Pacific Northwest (including in Canada). Further, the United States provides Canada with roughly $150 -$300 million worth of carbon-free hydro-power per year, depending on electricity prices. (RELATED: US Trade Deficit Hit 14-Year High In August)

By 2002, however, the U.S. payments had fully covered the construction cost of the Canadian dams. Yet the annual payments have persisted for nearly another two decades. Canada now sells much of the electricity it receives from the U.S. under this treaty to, you guessed it,

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