Q&A: Merkley on green jobs subcommittee's powerful Oregon tie
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Sen. Jeff Merkley talks about his role on the Senate green jobs subcommittee.
Earlier this week the office of Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., announced that he'd been appointed chairman of a Senate subcommittee focused on green jobs and the clean economy.
In a statement, Merkley said the appointment would provide an opportunity for energy-related job creation, both in Oregon and nationwide.
Looking for some more clarity, we talked with Merkley by phone from his office to find out more.
Sustainable Business Oregon: What does this appointment mean for Oregon?
Jeff Merkley: This has a powerful tie into Oregon. It's focused on renewable energy and green jobs, and Oregon strong state program of energy efficiency finance and job creation — the Clean Energy Works Oregon program. The lessons we've learned with that program are worth bringing forward. It has the highest potential in terms of leveraging bang for the buck for jobs created and dollars spent. The jobs are living wage, but you create a lot of jobs. It's not like a defense budget that gets eaten up by large salaries. In addition, there's the leverage you get when, when you subsidize the loan to the point where a person says 'I can do this. I can replace my windows with more efficient ones.' And what's really powerful is that 95 percent of the materials are made in the United States, there's very little leakage. So it's just an incredibly effective strategy for job creation and economic development. I'll be shining a light on that.
SBO: How much will you be able to get done at the subcommittee level?
JM: The subcommittee's role is basically to explore issues. If anything is going to move forward it would be largely with the consent of the chair (of the U.S. Senate Committee Environment and Public Works), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif). She'd make sure the projects that are being pursued by my subcommittee aren't duplicating the efforts of other parts of the committee. I have considerable flexibility in what I get to look at, but that doesn't mean it won't be marked up and changed by the full committee.
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