Social media pages are spreading a false claim that President Joe Biden revoked the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline because of a campaign donation from Warren Buffett. Buffett did not donate to Biden’s campaign.
A viral meme falsely claims that billionaire investor Warren Buffett caused construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline to be “cancelled.”
President Joe Biden revoked the permit for the controversial addition to an oil pipeline from Canada as part of an executive order addressing environmental issues that he signed on his first day in office. Biden had promised during the campaign to nix the project.
The meme, however, claims: “The Keystone pipeline. Cancelled by Biden on first day. Warren Buffet owns the railroad that is now transporting all that oil. Warren Buffet donated 58 million to Biden campaign. Warren Buffet would lose billions in transport fees if the pipeline is completed. See how politics works? It is not an environmental issue, it is a money issue…”
Beyond spelling Buffett’s name wrong, the meme gets some of the key information wrong, too.
Most importantly, Buffett didn’t donate any money to the Biden campaign, according to records from the Federal Election Commission. However, he did donate $248,500 in 2019 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which spent $330 million in support of Democratic House incumbents and candidates during the 2020 election.
It’s also worth noting that while he didn’t contribute to Biden’s campaign, Buffett has donated to previous Democratic presidential campaigns. He donated to both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
The claim that Buffett gave $58 million to any candidate isn’t possible, though. Candidate campaigns are limited to accepting $2,800 per election from any one individual. All donations made by employees of Buffett’s holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, in the 2020 cycle totaled just $5.2 million and that was roughly split between Democrats and Republicans alike. That figure includes donations from Buffett.
As for the claim about Buffett’s concern for the pipeline — it’s true that Berkshire Hathaway owns BNSF Railway, which carries crude oil and has an interest in transporting Canada’s supply. But Buffett has publicly supported the Keystone XL Pipeline project. As early as 2012, he said on Fox Business, “I’m not an expert, but it generally sounds like it makes sense to me. … There are an awful lot of pipelines running through the United States. They have been a huge plus for the country.”
“Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” White House. 20 Jan 2021.
Oliphant, James. “Democrat Biden says he would kill Keystone XL pipeline.” Reuters. 18 May 2020.
Federal Election Commission. Individual contributions, Warren Buffett. Accessed 4 Feb 2021.
Frittelli, John, et al. “U.S. Rail Transportation of Crude Oil: Background and Issues for Congress.” Congressional Research Service. 4 Dec 2014.
Frittelli, John. “Rail Transportation of Crude Oil and the FAST Act: An Update.” Congressional Research Service. 7 Sep 2017.
Jordon, Steve. “Warren Watch: Behind Buffett’s support of Keystone XL pipeline project.” Omaha World-Herald. 27 Nov 2017.