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Billions for biofuels from Branson

branson.jpgSir Richard Branson, the U.K.’s airline mogul, this week pledged $3 billion to help find ways to make travel more environmentally friendly. The money will be invested in a new company, Virgin Fuels, that will research how to produce biofuels from plants. With momentum rising among travelers in the EU to cut back on flying to prevent global warming, and trains becoming more competitive, it’s certainly a good business strategy to find ways to fly with less pollution.

A couple of years ago, I saw a lot of Sir Richard when he visited EAA AirVenture — a huge aviation show held every summer in Oshkosh, Wisconsin — to announce the launch of his Virgin Galactic space-tourism business. He made an impression on me because he repeatedly expressed concern about taking care of our environment, both at press conferences and at packed public forums.

Branson has been criticized by some because even fuel-efficient space tourism, you have to admit, is still a pretty non-essential use of fossil fuels. But personally, given all the other ways that huge amounts of fuel go egregiously to waste, I think it ranks fairly low on the indignation scale.