Warren Buffett’s secretary, who will be sitting in the gallery for the SOTU tonight to dramatize that she pays a lower tax rate than her boss (here and here), isn’t entirely eclipsing Mr. Buffett today: the story that a railroad owned by Buffett stands to profit mightily from President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline has just hit the presses.

Oil is already being moved to Mexico from places like North Dakota by rail, business that would be threatened if Keystone got the green light. About 75 percent of this oil is handled by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC, a unit of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

CBS News reports:   

Shipping crude by pipeline in North Dakota adds up to $1.50 to its cost, compared to $2 or more a barrel for rail shipments, producers say.

"Oil that would have moved by the Keystone XL is now going to shift to rail transportation," [Department of Minerals Spokesman Allison] Ritter said.

Buffett is an adviser to President Obama who has won the president’s heart by begging that the tax rates of the very rich such as himself be raised. He immortalized his secretary by saying that she pays a higher tax rate than he does (a highly misleading claim, by the way).

The rejection of Keystone was to appease the president’s environmental base. There is absolutely no reason, barring some new information, to imply that Buffett had a hand in it. It’s just interesting. But I am willing to bet that, if Buffett were close to a Republican administration that made this kind of decision, he wouldn’t be given the benefit of the doubt by the media.

Spunky Human Events does imply that Buffett got a favor. You can reject that notion (pending, as I said, more reporting, which is unlikely as Buffett is a media favorite) and still appreciate Human Events’ zinger:

The “tax me more” refrain from liberal billionaires is one of the oldest sucker games in the book.  For the well-connected, the money that can be made through government power – whether by influencing corrupt politicians, or merely predicting what they’re going to do – dwarfs whatever income they offer to cough up.

And Buffett’s profiting from the Keystone fiasco, which will cost thousands of Americans the opportunity of a job, might make a nice little counterpoint to his fabled secretary for those who comment on the SOTU tonight.