Thirty years ago today the first oil flowed through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to the port of Valdez. From a recent editorial in the Fairbanks Daily-Miner:
An account of that day’s events, including the 65-minute delay in the startup, and of activities in the days leading up to the line’s operation included some deserved boasting from William Darch, president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. at the time. “The major point is that we have been able to complete on time and on schedule a project of this magnitude.” He noted that such a feat was “almost unique” in the construction and pipeline industries.
It took 38 months and $8 billion to accomplish.
Money available because oil companies make profits, we note.
Could a similar project be accomplished today? We have our doubts. Food comes from grocery stores, and energy comes from gas stations and thermostats, and too many politicians are ignoring the supply side of the supply-and-demand equation. ANWR remains off limits, even as people rail against U.S. dependency on foreign oil.
One positive instracture note, though: Yesterday the Senate defeated an amendment to H.R. 6, the energy bill, sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) that would have prevented the construction of most liquified natural gas terminals. Cardin’s amendment would have rolled back the 2005 Energy Policy Act by allowing governors and local officials to block the much-needed facilities. It failed, 37 yeas to 56 nays. So there’s some hope.
Also: Investor’s Business Daily has an excellent editorial today on current energy legislation seen in the context of the 30th pipeline anniversary. Key ANWR point:
Most of the 15 billion barrels delivered over the last three decades came from Prudhoe Bay, some 60 miles to the west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Prudhoe was supposed to yield just a “six months’ supply” of oil while ravaging the environment. The same arguments, in other words, that are used against oil development in ANWR. Yet caribou herds and other wildlife thrived.
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