In June 1977, the first barrel of oil flowed down the trans-Alaska pipeline. That oil and the pipeline that carried it forever changed the state. Forty years later, Alaska’s Energy Desk explores that rich history.
The pipeline runs through the lives of many Alaskans. Did you work on the line? Did you spend time at the Elbow Room in Fairbanks? Did you help clean up after the Exxon Valdez spill? Please share your story with us.
Oil started flowing down the trans-Alaska pipeline forty years ago, transforming Alaska into a wealthy oil state. But if it weren’t for a few determined individuals, the giant oil field that started it all might still be hidden under the tundra today.
When Alaska became a state, the federal government agreed to hand over more than 100 million acres. There was just one problem. Alaska Native people already claimed that land. Then Alaska struck oil, and the question of who owned what land in the 49th state went all the way to the White House.
National environmental groups fought hard to stop the pipeline. Ultimately they failed. But along the way they turned a new, obscure statute into the environmental process almost every large construction project must meet.
The trans-Alaska pipeline was the largest privately-funded construction project in the world, built across the biggest U.S. state and faced with unprecedented natural obstacles. It came with an $8 billion price tag, but true costs and benefits of the pipeline are still being calculated.
In Alaska, we don’t pay income tax. We don’t pay state sales tax. But once a year every man, woman and child gets a cut of the state’s oil wealth. There are plenty of other oil states in the world, but Alaska is the only one that treats residents like shareholders and sends them dividend checks every year.
Mark your calendars, Midnight Oil will be presenting a free live event at 7:00PM on July 20th at the 49th State Brewing Co. in Anchorage. What was it like to be the first female tractor-trailer driver on the line? Would you drop out of college for the chance at a big pipeline paycheck? Listen to these personal stories and more, meet the podcast producers, and purchase the Midnight Oil beer on tap at the event.