What exactly are Warren Buffett’s connections to TransCanada’s Keystone XL oil pipeline? Does the Oracle from Omaha have an interest in seeing the project killed?
Back in January, the State Department advised the President to reject the proposal to extend the Keystone XL pipeline because it was not in the “national interest” of the country at this time. But why would Obama choose to not support this project when he has backed so many green energy projects, even ones that have failed like Solyndra?
According to Forbes, the pipeline would have been a huge job creator:
According to TransCanada, the company planning to build the pipeline, Keystone XL would alleviate transportation bottlenecks and improve capacity in a market where oil imports total 10 to 11 million daily barrels. The company claims it would put 13,000 people to work building the pipeline and 118,000 spin-off jobs “through increased business for local goods and service providers.”
Building the Keystone extension would provide additional transportation capacity at the crucially important city of Cushing, Oklahoma. The pricing point for NYMEX spot and future WTI contracts, which determine the price of crude oil, Cushing has faced severe bottlenecks as its capacity to transport crude oil to the refinery-rich Gulf Coast has been limited.
The oil that would have come in the pipeline would still be coming to the United States regardless, only now it would be through trains. And who owns the trains? Warren Buffett.
The question is not about the environment or government studies.
Warren Buffett’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC railroad — a unit of Buffett’s Omaha, Nebraska based Berkshire Hathaway — would be among those poised to reap sizable gains by the administration’s decision to reject TransCanada’s oil pipeline permit. Berkshire Hathaway purchased a 22% (or, $34 billion share) of the 32,000 mile line in 2009, shortly after Obama was elected.
“Whatever people bring to us, we’re ready to haul,” said Burlington Northern spokesperson Krista York-Wooley.
Warren Buffet has vehemently denied ever speaking to The President about the Keystone Pipeline project despite the fact that he owned a company that would benefit from it’s cancellation.
This pipeline should have passed. Because it’s safe, it’s a job creator, helps America get cheap oil and gets you lower gas prices.
He’s got to be the luckiest guy ever because he benefits from this.
How did Buffett get so lucky? It had something to do with Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson.
Buffett and Nelson go way back. In 2010 while the country was undergoing an overhaul of it’s financial regulations, Nelson worked hard to push legislation that would benefit Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway. As of 2010, Nelson owned up to $6 million in stock in Berkshire Hathaway.
Senator Ben Nelson, voted against the Keystone XL and lobbied that it be re-routed to avoid Nebraska. Ironically, the Senator’s attempts to thwart the pipeline were done while he himself maintained his state would heartily welcome the jobs created from the Keystone project. While Nelson’s position then seems counterintuitive, add to it the fact that he is heavily invested in Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
From 2007 to 2012 Nelson contributed $27,000 to the company itself and according to a recent financial disclosure statement from 2008, he owned between $1.5 and $6 million of the company’s stock – his largest investment in any one company to date.
The pendulum seems to swing both ways, however. Buffett’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe PAC in turn contributed $5,000 to Senator Nelson’s Nebraska Leadership PAC and Berkshire Hathaway employees have reportedly long supported the senator, contributing at least $75,550 to the Nebraska Democrat over the course of his political career according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Not coincidentally, Senator Nelson penned an op-ed column on March 5, 2012 entitled “Behind Those High Gas Prices.” As you can imagine, the senator was quick to tell Nebraskans that the spike “has nothing to do with the Keystone Pipeline” and also “isn’t a result of domestic oil production.”
Tying it all back to the Pipeline, it’s clear that both Nelson and Buffett have quite a bit to gain financially if Buffett’s trains were used to transport the oil instead of the pipeline.
The political favors, the green house gas emissions, oil transported on choo-choo trains riding off into the smog-ridden sunset.
And who loses? You.
You’re not on the gravy train. You’re in your car and most likely standing at the gas station pumping in gas that will be way more expensive.”
- Glenn Beck - 4/18/2012