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Becca Schimmel
By Becca Schimmel November 18, 2021

No evidence Keystone pipeline was canceled for Warren Buffett’s benefit

If Your Time is short

  • This image and claim first appeared during the Obama administration.

  • Buffett did contribute to Obama’s presidential campaigns. As president, Obama rejected a permit for the pipeline, arguing that the project would not lower gas prices or increase the nation’s energy security.

  • Buffett supported the pipeline. He did not contribute to Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign.

  • Biden halted the Keystone XL Pipeline on his first day in office through executive order, citing his administration’s economic and climate interests.

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order revoking the permit for the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, which would have helped carry crude oil from Canada to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Months later, a curious social media post suggested the demise of the planned pipeline was the work of former President Barack Obama and was done ​​as a favor to billionaire investor Warren Buffett. The post from Oct. 27 misspells Buffett’s last name and shows an image of a train with the text underneath referencing Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate headed by Buffett.

"In the last 2 election cycles," the image reads, "Buffet gave extensively to Democrat causes and candidates. He also bundled and hosted numerous fundraisers for Obama. If anyone believes the Keystone Pipeline isn’t being blocked by Obama on Buffet’s behalf, I’ve got a bridge to sell you."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

One reason this claim seems a bit out of place? Reverse-image searches show it was being shared as early as 2015, midway through Obama’s second term. At the time, Obama did reject a permit for Keystone XL, arguing in his Nov. 6, 2015, statement that the pipeline would not lower gas prices, increase the nation’s energy security or make a meaningful long-term contribution to the U.S. economy.

The Keystone XL pipeline was first proposed more than a decade ago during a period of high oil prices. It would have carried up to 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Neb., where it would connect with another leg stretching to Gulf Coast refineries. 

When President Donald Trump took office, his administration backed the project in the face of objections from environmental groups and attempted to revive the pipeline, but ultimately made little progress

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Political contributions 

According to Federal Election Commission records, Buffett did not contribute to Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. He did, however, donate to the presidential campaigns of both Obama and Hillary Clinton, and in 2019 he donated $248,500 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House of Representatives. Between 2007 and 2012, Buffett gave more than $75,000 to organizations supporting Obama

Buffett has expressed his support for the Keystone XL Pipeline, even though it would have competed against his Burlington Northern railroad, which transports crude. 

Buffett said the pipeline would be good for Canada and America. Buffett assistant Debbie Bosanek told the Associated Press, "Mr. Buffett has never seen any report by BNSF projecting whether the Keystone Pipeline would increase or decrease the revenue of the railroad."

Our ruling

A Facebook post claims the Keystone Pipeline was blocked by Obama to benefit Buffett.

That’s incorrect. The Keystone XL Pipeline has been blocked multiple times for climate, economic, and perceived national-interest reasons. We don’t find evidence that the decision was intended to benefit Buffett. 

Buffett, in fact, supported its construction.

We rate this claim False.

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No evidence Keystone pipeline was canceled for Warren Buffett’s benefit

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