Canada seeking additional energy from U.S. under the Columbia treaty Court overturns escape conviction

Gosia Wozniacka / The Associated Press /

PORTLAND — Canada says the U.S. should pay more in hydropower for getting recreational and other benefits under an international treaty governing operations of the fourth-largest river in North America.

The U.S., however, has recommended the opposite. It wants to send less hydropower across the border if the Columbia River treaty is renegotiated.

The treaty dates back to 1964 and has no expiration date. But as of next year, the agreement will allow either side to give 10 years notice of intent to renegotiate or cancel. So, this year, both sides are laying out their bargaining positions.

Under the treaty, Canada stores water behind three dams for flood control and to maximize hydropower generation.

The U.S. paid Canada $64 million the arrangement. And every year, it sends Canada half the electricity generated downstream at U.S. hydropower dams.

When Canada didn't need hydropower, the U.S. instead paid it's neighbor about $250 million annually, and Canada used the money to finance the construction of its three Columbia River dams.

For the past 20 years, however, the U.S. has sent power to Canada, which is now valued at about $350 million.

The U.S. says that because it has paid off the cost of the Canadian dams, the U.S. should send less power as part of its Canadian Entitlement obligations.

If those obligations are reduced, officials said, the financial benefits would be used to reduce hydropower costs in the Pacific Northwest and to help improve the river's ecosystem.

But in draft recommendations, released by the government of British Columbia on Wednesday, the Canadians said the U.S. also needs to provide compensation for benefits other than flood control and hydropower, including recreation, navigation and ecosystem benefits.

Other points of difference between the U.S. and Canadian recommendations include flood control and fish passage.

While the U.S. wants to pursue a joint program with Canada to study the possibility of restoring fish passage on Columbia's main stem to Canadian spawning grounds, Canada maintains that restoration of fish passage and habitat is not a treaty issue.

Canada does agree with the U.S. on other key points, such as making the river system more flexible to respond to climate change and to improve the ecosystem.

PORTLAND — The Oregon Court of Appeals has overturned the escape conviction of an inmate who walked away from a job shoveling manure at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. His reasoning: The fairgrounds isn't a correctional facility.

Aaron Cadger of Roseburg was serving a 60-day sentence for a probation violation and was assigned to a work detail at the fairgrounds in September 2010 when his girlfriend arrived at the facility. He left in her car.

Police found the 20-year-old Cadger in California and returned him to Douglas County. He was charged with escaping from a correctional facility.

Cadger disputed that charge, arguing that the fairgrounds doesn't fit the definition of a correctional facility, defined in Oregon law as “any place used for the confinement of persons charged with or convicted of a crime or otherwise confined under a court order.”

A trial court judge in Douglas County denied his motion for an acquittal.

Cadger was still within a “correctional facility,” prosecutors argued, even if he wasn't physically in a jail or prison.

Prosecutors relied on a 1994 Appeals Court decision in which a defendant left his house during a 90-day home detention sentence.

The Appeals Court ruled Wednesday that case was different from Cadger's, because the inmate's “cell” was his house, and he was told he could not leave.

Cadger argued that he was on temporary release at the fairgrounds and should face the lesser charge of unauthorized departure.

The Appeals Court agreed with him, citing an earlier case of a similar nature, when an inmate was dropped off to work at a local animal shelter under supervision of the workers there, and walked away.

“Defendant in the present case was authorized to leave the jail, for work at the fairgrounds, and he did not 'abscond while under the direct supervision of a law enforcement official,'” Appeals Court Judge Lynn Nakamoto wrote.