Taxpayers Footing the Bill for Airline Biofuels

This sounds like Ray Bradbury science fiction stuff.

But to help stop climate change and carbon emissions, Honeywell, Boeing, United Airlines, Continental Airlines, Japan Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, all are in on research and development using biofuels to replace up to 40% of the jet fuel needed to fly airplanes.

That includes algae -- yes algae -- as a biofuel. It’s working in the labs, as companies experiment with bacteria to create this fuel.

But the troubling part is this: A spokesman for the International Air Transport Association which backs biofuels now says: "We need governments to adopt policies to help support commercialization of biofuels to bring up the volume and bring down the price.”

Translation: We want you the taxpayer to foot the bill.

Let the markets decide whether this will work. But our government will not do that.

Witness a company called Solazyme that makes biofuel out of low-cost plant sugars and algae.

It now can only survive with U.S. taxpayer subsidies. It got a $20 million taxpayer lifeline, but now the company is selling beauty products and nutritional supplements in addition to fuel to survive, as it booked $29.7 million in losses from 2010 to 2011—and another $16.8 million in losses so far this year.

This is just like D.C.’s expensive flirtation with ethanol, wind and solar. Taxpayers must pay for huge economies of scale needed to ramp up the amount of bio fuels needed to replace fossil fuels, plus do so competitively in the marketplace.

Meanwhile, there’s this: Europe’s new cap and trade system will now hit European airline routes—but China and India have ordered their airlines not to cooperate with regulating airline emissions.