Sen. Merkley talks "reasonable prospect" surrounding timber payments

COOS BAY, Ore. - Senator Jeff Merkley blew through the South Coast on President's Day, holding town hall meetings in Lane, Douglas and Coos Counties.

Here in town, the topics on everyone's minds seemed to be: LNG, timber payments and the Bandon marsh expansion.

Merkley told the crowd that this week, he sat down with Sen. Wyden and Congressman Walden to try and forge a path that's bipartisan and holds the federal government accountable for the deal they made with timber counties.

He explained that his colleagues need to understand the history of why the contract exists.

"I think we have a reasonable prospect, probably not to get a five year renewal, but I'm hoping we can get at least a one year renewal because Senator Wyden will then be a ranking member of energy and we'll be past the presidential election and hopefully, we can take initial steps forward from there," explains Merkley.

A local high school student asked Merkley a question surrounding LNG and whether the senator thinks the benefits outweigh the risks.

"The main point that I have made throughout this is that the citizens of Oregon need to be part of the conversation. We shouldn't have the federal energy commission, called FERC, that is basically imposing it's view on superseding or telling Oregon what to do," the senator remarks.

Merkley went onto say, he's currently in listening mode regarding the controversial project, and he's encouraging people to share their thoughts on it.