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April 01 2012


February 03 2012


Warren Buffett Exposed: The Oracle of Omaha and the Tar Sands

On January 23, Bloomberg News reported Warren Buffett's Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), owned by his lucrative holding company Berkshire Hathaway, stands to benefit greatly from President Barack Obama’s recent cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline

If built, TransCanada's Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline would carry tar sands crude, or bitumen (“dilbit”) from Alberta, B.C. down to Port Arthur, Texas, where it would be sold on the global export market

If not built, as revealed recently by DeSmogBlog, the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side, and could include increased levels of ecologically hazardous gas flaring in the Bakken Shale, or else many other pipeline routes moving the prized dilbit to crucial global markets.

Rail is among the most important infrastructure options for ensuring tar sands crude still moves to key global markets, and the industry is pursuing rail actively. But transporting tar sands crude via rail is in many ways a dirtier alternative to the KXL pipeline. “Railroads too present environmental issues. Moving crude on trains produces more global warming gases than a pipeline,” explained Bloomberg.

A key mover and shaker behind the push for more rail shipments is Warren Buffett, known by some as the “Oracle of Omaha” — of "Buffett Tax" fame — and the third richest man in the world, with a net worth of $39 billion. With or without Keystone XL, Warren Buffett stands to profit enormously from multiple aspects of the Alberta Tar Sands project. He also, importantly, maintains close ties with President Barack Obama.

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August 24 2011


General Electric's Jim Cramer Heads to Midwest As Fracking Cheerleader

This article is cross-posted from the Center for Media and Democracy's PRWatch

Today, CNBC's Mad Money with Jim Cramer's "Invest in America" series will take the show to a seemingly unlikely locale, a place many would consider the middle of nowhere -- North Dakota.

Why North Dakota? Four words: The Bakken Shale Formation.

Referred to as "Kuwait on the Prairie" by The New Yorker in an April 2011 feature story and located predominately in northwest North Dakota, the shale formation possesses a vast amount of both oil and methane gas, gathered via the notorious fracking process. Recognizing the economic opportunities that the formation would present to fossil fuel corporations, the U.S. Energy Information Administration penned a report in November 2006 titled "Technology-Based Oil and Natural Gas Plays: Shale Shock! Could There Be Billions in the Bakken?", highlighting them in some depth.

The report opens on this note:

"The Bakken Formation...is a success story of horizontal drilling, fracturing, and completion technologies...success came from analysis of geologic data on a decades-old producing area, identification of uptapped resources, and application of the new drilling and completion technology necessary to exploit them."

In short, the Bakken Shale, like the Marcellus Shale, Haynesville Shale, Eagle Ford Shale, Barnett Shale, Fayetteville Shale, and other shale basins, is big business for big methane gas drilling corporations.

Even more importantly in this case is the fact that CNBC is a subdivision of NBC, which is owned by General Electric (GE).

The General Electric Economic Stake in the Bakken Shale

On February 10, the Associated Press reported that GE Energy Financial Services formed a partnership with Sequel Energy LLC, whose headquarters are in Denver, Colorado.

The partnership's purpose was to acquire oil and gas reserves located in the Williston Basin, where the Bakken Shale is located, from St. Mary Land & Exploration Co., for $137 million.

AP reported, "The companies declined to disclose the size of the reserves but said they are in producing fields. Other financial and operational details were not disclosed."

The press release on CNBC's preview of Cramer's visit to the Bakken Shale reads,

"CNBC ... will cover this story from all angles focusing on jobs, technology, infrastructure and the American pioneer spirit, among other topics."


Cramer, a de facto employee of GE, which has a direct economic stake in his cheerleading rather than objective reporting, will most likely cover the "mad money" that could be made by a small handful of rich corporations, including his own, from exploitation of the Bakken Shale.

In all likelihood, though, he will not cover the angle most inconvenient to the methane gas industry -- the multitude of ecological perils inherent in fracking for gas and burning it.

Don't expect to hear much about that in this edition of Cramer's "Invest in America" series at the Bakken Shale.

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