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‘Liberals’ billionaire’ Warren Buffett comes out for Keystone XL pipeline

By John Byrne
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 9:37 EDT
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Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, in Detroit, Michigan on Nov. 25, 2013[AFP]
 
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Warren Buffett, the American billionaire who has long championed a fairer U.S. tax code, has a position certain to rankle those who hold the investor dear: He’s thrown his support behind the Keystone XL pipeline.

The pipeline, proposed by TransCanada, will cut through several U.S. states on the way to refineries in Louisiana. Opponents have cited its overland environmental risk — it will be carrying a more toxic mixture of oil containing chemical solvents and petroleum from Canada’s so-called tar sands, and so oil spills could prove more dangerous for communities along its route — and the carbon cost of pulling the thicker, more bituminous energy source from the ground.

“I would vote yes,”  Buffett told CNBC interviewer Becky Quick. “I just believe it’s a useful pipeline.”

He did say, however, he didn’t think the jobs TransCanada has promised are meaningful, saying, “You can build anything and create jobs.”

Quick didn’t press the point. She said simply, “You do. Great.”

Interestingly, Buffett owns railroads, a transportation option that Keystone has raised as an alternative, while noting that railroads would create their own pollution and put populations at risk along their path. Buffett might stand to benefit from the pipeline being struck down; ultimately, the pipeline’s fate now rests with the State Department and President Barack Obama, who have to sign off on it because it crosses international borders.

Buffett said he was still bullish on the U.S. economy and told investors not to fret over Russia’s Ukraine invasion. He said they shouldn’t convert their stock holdings into cash.

“The one thing you can be quite sure of is if we went into some kind of very major war, the value of money would go down,” he said. “That’s happened in virtually every war I’m aware of. The last thing you’d want to do is hold money during a war.”

He’s also still critical of the Tea Party. He told CNBC he felt a small faction of Republicans was holding the rest of the party “hostage.”

Here’s the clip about Keystone with CNBC’s Quick below. More details about Buffett’s comments can be found here, while a transcript — of the three hour interview — can be found here.

 
 
 
 
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