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McCaskill visits St. Louis, Wash. U. on state-wide energy tour

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill was in St. Louis Monday as part of her state-wide energy tour.

The Democratic senator participated in a roundtable discussion at Washington University about the nation's energy future. At the table were some of Missouri's energy industry leaders, along with university administrators and researchers.

McCaskill says their feedback reinforced for her the need to keep all energy options on the table.

"It emphasized to me that we can't do what we've done sometimes in this country, which is, OK, now we're going to do natural gas. OK now we're going to do oil. Well now we're going to do coal. Well now we're going to do nuclear. Well now we're going to do wind. Well now we're going to do ethanol," McCaskill said. "We need to do all of it. We need to do all of it."

McCaskill says the government's role should be to support energy diversification and protect the environment.

The senator's visit to St. Louis also included a stop at a Washington University solar energy research lab.

The lab is part of Washington University's Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center.

The Center is using an ultra-fast laser system to study how plants and bacteria capture sunlight and convert it to energy. The hope is to eventually use that technology to produce the next generation of solar panels.

McCaskill says the government needs to continue to support energy research.

"My opponents want to do away with the Department of Energy," McCaskill said. "Well, the Department of Energy is funding this important research that is going on in ten feet from me, that would allow us to maybe use solar energy in a way that's cost-effective."

The Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center was funded in 2009 by a five-year, $20 million Department of Energy grant.