Warren Buffett is calling his acquisition of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad company a $34 billion wager on the economic future of the U.S. ...
Frank O'Donnell is president of Clean Air Watch, it's a non-profit environmental group. He says Buffett's acquisition is a sign he doesn't think the government's going to do much on global warming.
FRANK O'DONNELL: Well, this is very ominous from the standpoint of climate change. Warren Buffett is no dummy, and he seems to be making a multi-billion dollar bet that coal use is not only going to continue but grow in the future.
He says Buffett's in this to make money, not to change policy. But people follow Buffett. And deals like this one could make it hard to convince Americans we need to.
That's funny, when I first heard about Buffett's acquisition from Streetsblog, I thought that it was a bet that gas prices would go up, and I was heartened by the show of confidence in the efficiency and emissions-reduction potential of rail freight. After all, Buffett himself said,
They do it in a cost-effective way and extraordinarily environmentally friendly way. BNSF last year moved on average, it moved a ton of goods 470 miles on one gallon of diesel. It releases far fewer pollutants into the atmosphere. It saves enormously on energy consumption and, you know, it diminishes highway congestion.
If enough people follow Buffett, that would mean that the railroads would have plenty of capital to rebuild their second, third and fourth tracks, providing more capacity that can be used by passenger trains and taking cars and trucks off the road. What a boon for the environment!
I know that I tend to focus on transit, but I still recognize that energy and food can make a difference in the environment. Apparently O'Donnell is so focused on energy that he can take a story that is explicitly about the potential for rail transportation to improve the environment, and spin it so that it's all about energy. Wow.