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U.S. Congressman Harry Teague holds up the first batch of what he termed “green gold,” or biofuel extracted from algae, Monday at the “World’s First Fully Integrated Algal Biorefinery” at New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center outside Artesia after a ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the facility. Executive director of the refinery Doug Lynn said, “This is a momentous occasion …  (one of) the single most significant contributions to alleviate our dependency on foreign oil.” While associates of the program said there are still wrinkles to smooth out with respect to the efficiency of operations, all agreed the creation of an operational algal biorefinery presents an opportunity to study problems and discover solutions to make algal biofuel competitive with oil. Operations Manager Lupe Carrasco said he and his coworkers have already made significant progress in making the refining process more efficient. “What we did 60 days ago in 12 hours, we can now do in 30 minutes,” he said. Business Manager Greg Brown said the small-scale refinery can be perfected and then scaled up to provide a significant and competitive alternative source of energy. “This is proof of principal … we are able to grow (algae), harvest it and extract it in one spot … we have now proven it can be done,” said Brown. “Everything you see here is scaleable.”