New report destroys prime argument for Arctic Refuge drilling

Jun 19, 2017

The trans-Alaska oil pipeline is capable of continuing to operate for roughly another 50 years at current oil-flow levels.

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Trans-Alaska oil pipeline will operate for decades without oil production from federally protected areas

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline,  The Wilderness Society today released a report that debunks one of the primary arguments allies of the oil industry have put forward to promote drilling in one of America’s last pristine, untouched landscapes: Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Today’s report documents that oil from the refuge and parts of other ecologically important, federally protected regions in the U.S. Arctic—such as the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and the Arctic Ocean—is not needed to ensure long-term, trouble-free operation of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, which began operating on June 20, 1977.

Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline Flow: Doing Just Fine After 40 Years negates the claim that the refuge’s fragile coastal plain and other federally protected areas in the Arctic must produce oil to keep the pipeline operating.

“To put it simply, the trans-Alaska oil pipeline will function for roughly another half-century without oil from federally protected regions,” said The Wilderness Society’s Arctic Program Director, Lois Epstein, an Alaska-licensed engineer and author of the report. “Don’t take my word for it. State court cases have reached this conclusion and there have been substantial, new oil discoveries on state and federal lands in recent years. The decline in trans-Alaska oil pipeline flow reversed in 2016 and that is a good news story for Alaska.”

Since 2012, Epstein has been a member of an advisory committee to the president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, the operator of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

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