U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was among the guest speakers at the unveiling of phase two of BioProcess Algae’s Grower Harvester algae bioreactors Friday afternoon. Vilsack later served as keynote speaker before a huge crowd at the Shenandoah Chamber and Industry Association’s annual meeting at the American Legion Country Club.

Vilsack says the algae plant gives Shenandoah an opportunity to showcase a new alternative energy form–one that uses CO2 from the Green Plains Renewable Energy ethanol plant next door and produces a renewable fuel source.

The former Iowa governor says such projects are important for the economies of rural communities–many of which are struggling these days. Vilsack says opportunities provided by industries with cutting-edge technology are important in keeping young people in local communities.

And, Vilsack says young people will leave rural communities–and take rural values with them–if opportunities aren’t provided on a local level. Vilsack says the Obama Administration has mandated the construction of four ethanol biorefineries in the country in the next 48 months, as well as research centers producing alternative feedstocks. He adds the president is clear in his goal of reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil by a third.

By Mike Peterson, KMA Shenandoah