WASHINGTON — The Keystone XL pipeline got an emphatic endorsement Monday from a powerful backer of President Barack Obama who questioned the handling of the file.
To billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the delay is a thumbing of the nose at Canada.
"I would have passed Keystone,'' Buffett said in an interview with CNBC.
"I think that we have an enormous interest in working with Canada, as they have in working with us. That oil is going to get sold. If we make it more difficult for them, who knows how they'll feel about making things more difficult for us someday.''
Because Buffett owns interests in the rail industry, in addition to oilsands holdings, there had been some speculation that he might have stood to benefit from a Keystone rejection.
But he has expressed support for it in the past, and did so with particular force Monday: "That (oil) is a valuable resource of North America, and Canada has been a terrific partner over the decades, and for us to kind of thumb our nose at them, you know, (that's) not what I would do.''
Buffett has been a donor and occasional political ally of the president, notably on the issue of increasing taxes for the wealthy. As for the pipeline, Obama has vetoed legislation on it and has made increasingly critical remarks about it, prompting widespread speculation that he's gearing up to reject it.
A prominent pipeline opponent in Nebraska said it should now be clear that the opposition movement isn't being bankrolled by the state's wealthiest resident, the so-called Oracle of Omaha.
"Well, (hope) this puts to bed all of those rumours from the right that Bold is funded by Buffett,'' said a tweet from Jane Kleeb, the founder of the group Bold Nebraska, which has organized landowners fighting the project.
It wasn't the only development welcomed Monday by pipeline supporters. The Washington Post's "Fact Checker'' feature also tore into Obama's repeated claims that the pipeline would do nothing but export Canadian oil.
The Post pointed out that in addition to Canadian bitumen, the pipeline would also carry oil from North Dakota and Montana to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.
It gave the president the worst possible truth-telling score — "Four Pinocchios.'' It said Obama's statements contradicted the findings of his own State Department's review.
"Clearly, the report remains unread,'' said the Post piece.
"If he disagrees with the State Department's findings, he should begin to make the case why it is wrong, rather than assert the opposite, without any factual basis.''
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OMAHA, NE - MARCH 8: Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway poses with Creighton Bluejay fans before the game between the Creighton Bluejays and the Providence Friars at CenturyLink Center on March 8, 2014 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NE - MARCH 8: A young Creighton Bluejay fan receives a proposal from Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway before the game between the Creighton Bluejays and the Providence Friarsat CenturyLink Center on March 8, 2014 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: Senior editor-at-large at Fortune magazine Carol Loomis and Warren Buffett speak onstage at the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit on October 16, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for FORTUNE)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: Warren Buffett speaks onstage at the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit on October 16, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for FORTUNE)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Glenn Close and Warren Buffett perform onstage at FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit on October 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for FORTUNE)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Glenn Close and Warren Buffett attend the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit on October 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for FORTUNE)
SUN VALLEY, ID - JULY 11: Chairman of Microsoft Bill Gates (R) and chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett break for lunch during the Allen & Co. annual conference at the Sun Valley Resort on July 11, 2013 in Sun Valley, Idaho. The resort is hosting corporate leaders for the 31st annual Allen & Co. media and technology conference where some of the wealthiest and most powerful executives in media, finance, politics and tech gather for weeklong meetings. Past attendees included Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Billionaire Warren Buffett (L), CEO and chairman of investment company Berkshire Hathaway, raises his fist after he was presented a jacket from his former shool in Washington, Wilson High School, after a conversation with David Rubenstein (R), president of the Economic Club of Washingtron, during the club's 25th anniversary dinner in Washington on June 5, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 05: Warren Buffett (L), chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. holds up his fist as David Rubenstein (R), president of the Economic Club of Washington, presents him with a jacket of Woodrow Wilson High School where he attended during the 25th anniversary celebration dinner of the Economic Club of Washington June 5, 2012 in Washington, DC. The Economic Club celebrated its 25th anniversary for its role as a forum for the exploration of national and global public policy issues and as important networking connections for business leaders in Washington. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)