"Buffett Bets Big On Coal"

"One of the big business stories today was that Warren Buffett is planning to buy Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which boasts one of the largest freight-rail networks in the country. Buffett told reporters that the move was "an all-in wager on the economic future of the United States." That's certainly encouraging. But there's also a less-noticed energy angle here.

Specifically, the BNSF railway serves a lot of coal fields in the West, including Wyoming's vast Powder River Basin, and hauls enough coal on its routes to supply about 10 percent of the electricity in the United States. So Buffett's essentially betting that coal's going to remain a major part of the U.S. energy mix for quite some time, even as the country moves to cut carbon emissions. (Via e-mail, Frank O'Donnell of Clean Air Watch points out that Buffett also owns MidAmerican Energy, a large Western utility that owns 11 coal-fired plants and has fought hard against caps on carbon emissions.)"

Bradford Plumer reports for the New Republic November 3, 2009.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009