Buffett Watch

I'd vote 'yes' on Keystone pipeline: Warren Buffett

Buffett: Rails have 'real economic' advantages

The Keystone oil pipeline is good idea for the United States, Warren Buffett said Monday, even though it would take away some business from his Berkshire Hathaway rail subsidiary BNSF.

The long-delayed leg from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska should be approved, the billionaire investor told CNBC.

"I would vote 'yes,'" Buffett said in a "Squawk Box" interview, but added he has "no idea" if President Barack Obama will approve it.

"I don't believe in the Keystone pipeline because of the jobs you'd make building it. You can build anything and create jobs," he said. "I just believe it's a useful pipeline."

(Read more: No climate change impact on insurance biz: Buffett)

Pipeline construction in Oklahoma
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

BNSF has benefited from transporting shale oil. Referring to the proposed pipeline, which has been opposed by environmentalists, Buffett said: "It's not that big a competitor. I think probably that the Keystone pipeline is good for the country."

But he acknowledged that rail cars carrying the oil will need to be made safer and promised they will be. "The oil from the Bakken, and from the Eagle Ford as well, turned out to be more volatile than people anticipated. ... We've lowered the speeds. It's [also] going to require another kind of tank car, too."

(Read more: Warren Buffett: Ukraine won't stop my stock buying)

BNSF will be buying 5,000 new tanker cars. "We have found in the last year or so that it's more dangerous to move certain types of crude certainly more than was thought previously."

In late December, a North Dakota town had to be evacuated after a BNSF train carrying Bakken crude derailed and caught fire.

By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC.