US Senator Jeff Merkley held his 500th town hall on Tuesday, April 5 at a virtual town hall in Lincoln County. Topics included plastic pollution, fossil fuels and affordable housing.
Merkley said we are estimated to consume the equivalent of one plastic credit card per week. Plastics are either burned, buried or dumped at sea. He said we need to approach this issue from several 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 plastics industry is very strong and Merkley said it will continue.
“Oil companies are making huge amounts of money,” Merkley said when the issue of fossil fuels came up. “The report for 2021 was that US oil companies were making $209 billion in net profits.”
Merkley said he was working in partnership with U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, among others, on the oil windfall tax, proposed by Whitehouse. The bill would cut a check for everyone in response to inflation and rising gas prices.
The answer to the high cost of fossil fuels is to end our reliance on fossil fuels, Merkley added.
“Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and methane in the atmosphere continue to rise,” Merkley said.
Merkley believes that the deployment of renewable energy is the solution. An average solar panel produces about one liter of gasoline per day.
“We need to make sure that offshore wind is pursued in dialogue with stakeholders, but particularly with the fishing community,” Merkley said.
Housing was what made Merkley run for office. The American middle class cannot afford to buy a home right now. There is not a single town hall he has held that has not addressed housing. Many accommodations on the coast are linked to holiday homes.
In his closing comments, Merkley said the war in Ukraine is an absolute tragedy and that Russia is now a dictatorship under President Vladimir Putin.
“Let’s make our democracy work better,” Merkley said.