KXL: Buffett boon from Obama opposition

Bloomberg News reports:

Warren Buffett’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC is among U.S. and Canadian railroads that stand to benefit from the Obama administration’s decision to reject TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline permit.

With modest expansion, railroads can handle all new oil produced in western Canada through 2030, according to an analysis of the Keystone proposal by the U.S. State Department.

Pipeline shipping costs remain lower than rail, and a lack of readily available tanker cars may create a bottleneck.

The availability of tank cars may create a temporary “hiccup” in transport capacity, according to Tony Hatch, an independent railroad analyst in New York. Rail cars are “a pretty hot commodity,” as a result of demand from oil producers in North Dakota, he said.

Buffett has been a big ally of President Obama. His personal secretary is even sitting with Michelle Obama tonight for the State of the Union address, according to POLITICO. Buffett and his secretary have become willing talking points for the Obama administration,

Billionaire Warren Buffett’s longtime secretary will be joining first lady Michelle Obama in her box at tonight’s State of the Union, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer announced on Twitter.

Debbie Bosanek, who has worked for Buffett for nearly two decades, has become a symbol in the White House’s fight over the tax code and economic fairness. Obama is expected to renew his push for the so-called “Buffett rule” that would bring investment taxation levels into line with income taxation levels — and ensure that upper income earners pay rates as high as middle-class Americans.

“Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett,” President Obama said in September, when he unveiled his American Jobs Act proposal. It’s a trope that Buffett himself has repeated, as he has campaigned for higher taxes on investment income.

Meanwhile, shipping oil via pipeline instead of via train costs $3 less per barrel. On one hand Obama and Buffett are hiding behind an image of reluctant capitalism, but when it comes to the energy costs of the middle-class, Buffett wins without hesitation.

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