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Warren Buffett - the fourth richest man on the planet and major campaign contributor to President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 - may soon get a whole lot richer.

That's because he just bought over half a billion bucks worth of Suncor Energy stock: $524 million in the second quarter of 2013, to be precise, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Suncor is a major producer and marketer of tar sands via its wholly owned subsidary Petro-Canada (formerly Sunoco) and this latest development follows a trend of Buffett enriching himself through dirty investments and deal-making.

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Warren Buffett – the fourth richest man on the planet and major campaign contributor to President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 - may soon get a whole lot richer.

That’s because he just bought over half a billion bucks worth of Suncor Energy stock: $524 million in the second quarter of 2013, to be precise, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Suncor is a major producer and marketer of tar sands via its wholly owned subsidary Petro-Canada (formerly Sunoco) and this latest development follows a trend of Buffett enriching himself through dirty investments and deal-making.

So far in 2013, Suncor (formerly Sun Oil Company) has produced 328,000 barrels per day of tar sands crude.

Though he receives far less negative press than the Koch Brothers, Buffett’s no deep green ecologist. Not in the slightest.

Referred to as one of 17 “Climate Killers” by Rolling Stone‘s Tim Dickinson in a January 2010 story, Buffett owns the behemoth holding company, Berkshire Hathway. It’s through Berkshire that he’s making a killing – while simultaneously killing the ecosystem – through one of its most profitable wholly-owned assets: Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF).

Buffett purchased BNSF for $26 billion and was “the largest acquisition of Buffett’s storied career,” Dickinson wrote.

BNSF hauls around frac sand for the controversial horizontal oil and gas drilling process known as “fracking.” The rail company also moves fracked oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin, tar sands logistical equipment and tar sands crude itself and tons of coal. And not only does Buffett’s BNSF haul around ungodly amounts of coal, he actually owns coal-burning utility companies, too.

“BNSF is the nation’s top hauler of coal, shipping some 300 million tons a year. That’s enough to light up 10 percent of the nation’s homes — many of which are powered by another Berkshire subsidiary, MidAmerican Energy,” Dickinson explained.

Beyond MidAmerican Energy, Buffett also owns the coal-burning PacifiCorp and his BNSF freight trains are largely responsible for the coal export boom unfolding in the northwest corridor of the United States.

“PacifiCorp…owns the most coal plants in the West and recently unveiled a long-term energy plan that did not include a single wind project over the next ten years,” explained a recent blog post written by the Sierra Club. “And Warren Buffett is still involved with one of the biggest coal-burning schemes of all — ongoing plans to export coal…to…Asia.”

“Buffett’s BNSF Railway would be the primary transporter of that coal, and the company has tried to get the coal export terminals approved over the objections of thousands of activists across the Pacific Northwest.”

And as his slam dunk, Buffett also has plans to convert BNSF’s freight trains to utilize fracked shale gas. He then plans to use those same shale gas-powered trains to transport fracked shale oil from North Dakota (5-percent of BNSF’s total shipments and 190,000 cars/week), a win-win for Buffett and a lose-lose for the ecosystem and the climate.

“We have a couple locomotives we’re experimenting with this year on it. The railroads are definitely experimenting with converting to natural gas,” he told CNBC’s Jim Cramer in a March 2013 interview. “[Y]ou’ve got to look at converting any kind of an engine to natural gas.”

‘Tis quite the list of “dirty deeds” by the man coined the “Oracle of Omaha.” And relative to his uber-wealth – to cue up the AC/DC – they’re “done dirt cheap.”

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Comment Preferences

  •  I cry almost every half an hour while (7+ / 0-)

    cleaning up the mess of my life and reading the mess of the world in between on dailykos.

    Sometimes I can't take it anymore.

    "Im Land der Schatten ist die Wahrheit eine Lüge"

    by mimi on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 01:15:52 PM PDT

  •  Buffett made/makes his money (4+ / 0-)

    with realistic assessments of the (economic) future.  This simply expresses his view of how North America's energy requirements are going to be met over the next decade or two.  And he's almost certainly correct.

    When something else comes along with a more certain and secure ROI (including in energy production/distribution) that's where his money will go.  He invests in what works . . .

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 01:30:01 PM PDT

    •  Warren has enough money so that he could decide (5+ / 0-)

      to go green instead of pushing tar sands if he really wanted to. How about reviving Changing World Technologies instead? Instead of fracking, how about changing Anything into Oil?

      We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

      by nuclear winter solstice on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 01:40:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why oil? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justanothernyer

        Why would we want to turn anything into oil, when natural gas burns cleaner?  Likewise, I don't understand why the diarist is complaining about converting diesel locomotives to natural gas.  Again, natural gas is cleaner, it produces less emissions.  That ought to be far and away the biggest environmental concern right now.

        •  producing oil (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Justanothernyer

          from "captured" (atmospheric) rather than mined Carbon would be ecologically sound, as would producing Methane from existing CO2 (or other "surfaced" organic matter).  In that regard it is six-to-one, half-a-dozen to the other.

          Neither is practical on an economic or EROI scale at present, though.  Reducing atmospheric CO2 back to a useable fuel requires energy . . . and there is no "clean" source available on the necessary scale to have significant impact on global warming (the reason generally given for doing it).  If there was a way to make money doing it there would be plenty of investors to fund the projects.

          Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

          by Deward Hastings on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 02:27:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  If you believe (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        doc2, BachFan

        that course would retain capital and produce a good ROI then that's where you should put your (and your client's) money.  Buffett does not.  I do not doubt, however, that when he sees an "alternate technology" that has a reasonable chance of meeting its hype and promise (and turning a profit for investors) he will invest in it.

        Buffett deals in reality, not in pie-in-the-sky fantasy and wouldn't-it-be-nice-if . . .

        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 02:17:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  But he supports income/estate tax increases (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Christin, Dem Beans

    so he's OK!

  •  depressing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, marina

    progressives love this guy.
    so tying him to Obama throughout is just as silly.

    this is heartbreaking.
    this planet will have enough of humans soon.
    and will just fart us off the planet.
    all all the money, kochs, and buffets in the world can't stop what will happen..

    "My Mom is my hero, my angel and I revere her to no end.." Christin, July 6, 2013

    by Christin on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 01:35:28 PM PDT

  •  OMG - killing the biosphere (5+ / 0-)

    why do these billionaires get a free pass?

    he is betting that tar sands will be developed

    and he knows more about the business dynamics than we do

    Chris Hedges has called for civil disobedience for years

    and now people who protest are terrorists

    As Norman Solomon says in his support for Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize - the military state is surveillance and connected with this is the finance state which is the anti environment (that means all of us in the biosphere) state subservience state

    and the rape the environment state fits right in the mix

    OMG = Oh My God

    they want to drive the world down as fast as possible

    •  wish there was an edit function on comments (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      divineorder, blueoasis

      surveillance state should only appear the first time

      and I made up the names finance state and anti environment state

      whatever they are called, these are some of the huge problems that are not being dealt with by the government and are passing more money to the 1%

  •  Buying shares of a company no more (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Farugia, shrike, Deward Hastings, Trix, BachFan

    helps the company to pollute than shorting the stock helps them not to. It is merely a bet. If I bet on the Patriots to win the Super Bowl, it neither means that I am helping them or that I even am a fan. Buying stock in a company means only one thing - that Buffett thinks its share price is undervalued right now.

  •  I note you got Obama's name in the title. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Trix

    So he's responsible for Buffet's acttions?  Cheap shot.

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 01:55:07 PM PDT

    •  Isn't he his patron? (5+ / 0-)

      He was an early supporter.  He received the Medal of Freedom from Obama in 2010.  He's been in the Oval Office for numerous meetings and photo ops.  Buffett provided Obama cover with his NY Times Op-Ed for letting the top marginal tax rate rise an incredible 3.6 percentage points as part of the wealthiest class' "sacrifice."

      Most environmentalists are committed to policies not personalities.  Most of us have given up on Obama doing anything constructive on the environment, and since Obama no longer has to face the voters, we expect him to approve Keystone.  Obama's benefactors will pay him off quite nicely after January 2017.

      "The working class mind is strange and unpredictable" -- Ty Lookwell

      by Illinibeatle on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 02:16:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Keystone is a done deal (0+ / 0-)

        waiting only the "official" imprimatur.  To renege on it now would require massive compensation to Canada and to the many companies who have proceeded with investments on the basis of promises already made behind closed doors.  It could happen, but I wouldn't bet on it.

        Buffett has hedged his bet neatly here . . . if Keystone goes ahead then Suncor does well . . . if Keystone is blocked then Suncor gets a multi-billion dollar "bonus" from somewhere . . . either to complete its upgrader project in Alberta or to otherwise compensate its loss.

        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 02:47:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Was "supporter" not a good enough descriptor? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        doc2, BachFan

        "Patron" makes it sounds like Obama is Buffet's bitch.

        •  It's incredibly demeaning toward Obama. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Trix

          To insinuate that Barack Obama, who received both more votes and more individual campaign contributions than any politician ever, has a "patron" is a flat-out insult. It's almost as bad as calling Buffet Obama's master.

          •  But spot on (0+ / 0-)

            It's clear by looking at his big sources of funding in 2008 and how he has performed in office that Obama is completely bought by the powers that be.  Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, the NSA, the revolving door between Monsanto and the Department of Agriculture; these are the people that put Obama in front of the voters as an alternative to business-as-usual Republicans.  That he suckered in as many individual campaign contributions as he did is icing on the cake, since it deferred the amount that the deep pockets had to chip in.

            Obama is all about cosmetic changes around the edges; changing the rules of health insurance, but never considering single-payer or national health care.  Moving troops out of some areas, but never questioning the need to have military bases all over the planet.  Talking a good game about natural gas as a bridge fuel and pushing renewables, yet having an all-of-the-above energy policy that ignores the reality of carbon emissions.

            But back to the original subject of this diary, Buffett.  He made his piles of money by having the best insight into the collective mind of corporate America.  He knew exactly where to put his bucket so that it would catch the money being pumped out by American industry.  Unfortunately, American industry is on a collision course of its own making, what with Peak Oil, overpopulation, and climate change converging to wash out the bridge over a very deep canyon.  Sounds like Buffett has every intention of staying on his first class club car as the whole train rides off the tracks.

      •  Nasty and unfounded charge. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        doc2, Tony Situ, BachFan
        Obama's benefactors will pay him off quite nicely after January 2017.
        That is not what Bill McKibben says.  Of course, you're the real environmentalist.

        I sure hoep you will apologize in a post if Obama and kerry deny Keystone.  But I'm sure you will just peddle another attack on Obama.  

        Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

        by TomP on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 03:24:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  No, he's not his patron. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BachFan

        First, I don't know which pronoun refers to whom, but Buffet isn't Obama's patron any more than I am.  I donated the maximum to Obama.  Maybe Buffett did too.  So we'd both be equal "patrons".

        Patron is something like the Pope sponsoring Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
        Buffet merely contributed to Obama's campaign, like a million others did.

  •  Well I consider the President to be one of the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan

    most supportive of turning towards sustainable energy production and developing new ways to use and produce it.  

    I have no idea why Warren Buffet does what he does but I'd be far more worried about the Koch brothers who design legislation and get it passed to avoid or derail any improvements.

  •  c'mon (0+ / 0-)

    Is there really anyone left (yeah a pun) here who thought that at the same time putting  panels on the the WH he would not ok the XL loveboat?

  •  lol Buffett was doing his biz when O was in diaper (0+ / 0-)

    s, kind of foolish to tie him to Obama in any real way.

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