Three stickers decorate a fire door inside the Siouxland Energy Co-operative of northwest Iowa. One with a green heart declares “I Love Ethanol”. Another shows a cartoon character urinating on the word Opec. A third says: “Write your congressman.”

Siouxland is a biofuel refinery, taking maize by the truckload from some of the nation’s best land and brewing it into ethanol for car engines. Built with local farmers’ capital and political muscle, these plants have established a market for excess grain supplies over the past 15 years and helped cut US reliance on foreign oil...

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