Merkley talks jobs at town hall

Jobs, jobs, jobs.

In one form or another, that was the key talking point Sunday afternoon during a Town Hall meeting with Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley at the Albany Senior Center.

More than 50 people from Albany, Corvallis, Springfield and Eugene came to question and hear from the former five-term Oregon representative from District 47-east Multnomah County who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008.

“The biggest issue is jobs,” Merkley said. “I am trying to get the Environmental Protection Agency to understand why biomass from our forests could be a significant source of energy and why it is better to burn wood than coal.”

Merkley said many jobs could be sustained in the Pacific Northwest by thinning second-generation forests, which would also reduce the potential for catastrophic fire and tree-killing diseases.

Biomass would also help the United States wean itself from its dependence on foreign oil, Merkley said.

“We’re spending $1 billion per day on foreign oil,” Merkley said. “We are making other countries very rich.”