From the Los Angeles Times:
Corn-based ethanol is the renewable fuel environmentalists love to hate. But as turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa has sent oil prices soaring, U.S.-made ethanol is making a comeback.
Plants mothballed during the economic downturn are reopening. Domestic ethanol production hit record levels last year, topping 13.2 billion gallons, according to the Renewable Fuels Assn. in Washington. Oil companies including Valero Energy Corp., Sunoco Inc. and Marathon Oil Corp. that snapped up facilities when the industry hit a rough patch a few years ago are looking to expand.
The recovery can be seen in Stockton, where a once-shuttered factory is now thundering to life. Train cars laden with Midwestern corn arrive daily to feed the grinding mills and steaming pipes that distill the grain into gasoline substitute. The surrounding air is pungent with the smell of yeast.