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Perriello Leads Way On New Industry

Editor, The Herald:

For our region to flourish economically, it's crucial that we create high paying, private sector jobs and industries worth investing in. Our Congressman, Tom Perriello, is leading the way on this issue by positioning Southside Virginia in the forefront of the development of new energy technologies.

The development of Miscanthus giganteus, a large perennial grass hybrid, is particularly exciting for farmers and landowners. Miscanthus, once converted into a condensed liquid form, can be used for fuel, and to produce plastic and adhesives. Miscanthus is economically attractive to farmers for reasons including the following:

• It can be harvested with a standard forage implement and can be stored in dry form, chopped or pelletized.

• It needs normal additives to the soil in the first year, herbicides in the first and second year, but nominal soil inputs and no herbicides by the third year.

• After maturity, Miscanthus lasts at least 30 years.

• One acre of Miscanthus can be converted into 1,200 gallons of cellulosic ethanol. (Corn yields about 450 to 500 gallons per acre, and switchgrass yields about 700 gallons per acre).

As Tom has said, our area's rich agricultural heritage positions us to be the leader in developing biofuels that will increase America's energy security and create new jobs. On September 3, Tom announced that the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville had been awarded an incentive grant of $734,759 from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science for research aimed at accelerating genetic plant breeding programs for Miscanthus and similar plants for energy production.

Tom knows that our region has all of the components needed to see this new industry develop and prosper from natural resources to people to technical expertise and research support. Please join me in voting for Tom Perriello on November 2 so that we can keep Tom working for us in Washington and Miscanthus can take root and grow in Southside Virginia.

Laura Keohane