Senator Wyden holds town hall at Lane

Statesman addresses environment, Russia probe, and other topics

Anna C.K. Smith // The Torch
U.S Senator Ron Wyden speaks to people gathered for an annual town hall meeting about Jordan Cove and the proposed pipeline at LCC’s main campus.

Senator Ron Wyden held a town hall meeting on Friday, Jan. 12 where over 100 community members gathered to speak with the Senator in Lane Community College’s Center for Meeting and Learning. While there were a few attendees who seemed unhappy, the overall reception was positive with cheers and applause after most things the senator said.

The event started off contentiously with one man accusing Wyden of forgetting about veterans. This led to a back and forth between the two men where they touched on a range of topics from the senator not working with the president to pharmaceuticals. Eventually, the man stated, “Sanctuary cities are the cause of the opiate problem.” He was then booed by the crowd and promptly left.

The main topic of discussion was the Jordan Cove Pipeline. The project will create a 200+ mile pipeline which will be used to transport natural gas from Malin, OR. to Coos Bay, OR.

The project itself is very controversial, with some people arguing that it will cause environmental damage, eminent domain problems and safety concerns, while others say that it will create jobs and boost the economy. The pipeline was brought up three times over the night to which Wyden said, “If there’s one thing I know, you all are persistent.”

The second most discussed topic was Russia’s interference with the 2016 election. “Number one, if there is any effort to interfere with Bob Mueller and his charge, this is going to, in my view, trigger a constitutional crisis,” Senator Wyden said. “Number two, as long as I am Oregon’s guy on the Senate Intelligence Committee, this matter is going the distance. It is not going to be swept under the rug.”

Many other topics were covered over the course of the evening including social programs for Oregonians in need, hate crimes being on the rise and the president’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

After the meeting ended, Wyden addressed the rise of hate groups at University of Oregon and LCC leaving some students and community members feeling unsafe, “I’m seeing it everywhere we go and we have got to beef up our outreach and effort to welcome people who are just seeking their legal rights against the far-right.”

Wyden also recently held town halls in Tillamook, Astoria and Scappoose.