Merkley holds 500th town hall

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley held his 500th town hall Tuesday, April 5, in a virtual town hall for Lincoln County. Topics included plastic pollution, fossil fuels and affordable housing.

Merkley said it is estimated that we consume a credit card worth of plastic a week. Plastics are either burned, buried or put out to sea. He said we must tackle this issue from many angles.

On the coast, people see plastic all the time. It is produced primarily from methane, Merkley added.

“It has a massive impact on climate change through global warming,” Merkley said.

The plastic industry is very strong and Merkley said he will keep at it.

“The oil companies are making massive amounts of money,” Merkley said when the issue of fossil fuels came up. “The report for 2021 was the American oil companies make $209 billion in net profits.”

Merkley said he is working in partnership with U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, among others, on The Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax, proposed by Whitehouse. The bill would cut a check for everyone in response to inflation and rising gas prices.

The response to the high cost of fossil fuels is to end our addiction to fossil fuels, Merkley added.

“The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the methane in the atmosphere continue to go up,” Merkley said.

Merkley believes deploying renewable energy is the solution. An average solar panel produces about a quart of gasoline a day.

“We have to make sure offshore wind is pursued in the context of dialogue with stakeholders but particularly the fishing community,” Merkley said.

Housing was what made Merkley want to run for office. Middle class America cannot afford to buy a house right now. There is not a single town hall that he has held that has not addressed housing. A lot of housing on the coast is tied up with vacation homes.

In closing comments, Merkley said the war in Ukraine is an absolute tragedy and Russia is now a dictatorship under President Vladimir Putin.

“Let’s make our democracy work better,” Merkley said.