Unhappy New Year: Biofuels in the Tank—Financially Markets are often unkind to new ideas. Biofuels are a case in point. Several years ago, the price of oil per barrel shot upward, but the price of agricultural produce was still low. That offered possible profits for converting crops to synthetic fuels. Meanwhile, there were rising environmental concerns about the carbon footprint of burning fossil hydrocarbons for transportation. Plants pull their carbon in from the air as they grow, so burning plant-derived fuel is carbon neutral. (We won’t get into those spoiled sports who grumble about carbon emissions associated with fertilizer, herbicides, tractor fuel, processing heat, etc.) Finally, there has been a lingering hostility about large transfer payments to foreign oil-producing countries since the Oil Crises began in the 1970s. Thus, governments in Europe and the Americas subsidized production of synthetic fuel by as much as a dollar a gallon at the pump.