Fifty years ago, TAPS was authorized, and the whole process took just five days

President Richard M. Nixon signs the TAPS Act, with lawmakers including Sen. Ted Stevens, Sen. Mike Gravel, and Congressman Don Young, at the White House on Nov. 16, 1973.


Fifty years ago this week, legislation authorizing construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. 

The whole process took all of five days.

Not only was the timeline unprecedented, but so was the fact that the act specifically halted all legal challenges against the planned pipeline. Furthermore, it prohibited federal and state agencies from regulating the construction of the project.

The legislation led to a flurry of construction, and since the first oil flowed through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in June, 1977, more than 18 billion barrels have been delivered to its Valdez terminus from Alaska’s North Slope. The benefits to our state are clear: more than one-sixth of all Alaskan private-sector jobs are tied to oil and gas development throughout the state, and Alaska’s economy is driven by oil revenues and investment decisions made via Alaska’s Permanent Fund, which increases each via oil and gas royalties.

Half a century ago, a bipartisan congressional coalition and President Nixon knew then what President Joe Biden seems to be oblivious to now: National oil and gas production – and the infrastructure and projects that create energy independence – drives America’s superpower status. Without it, we’re susceptible to geopolitical events and foreign countries’ attempts to undermine the free market, a hard lesson the Europeans have learned since Russia launched its war against Ukraine.

Today, we’re seeing continuous attacks on resource development projects that would create American jobs, help Americans live better lives, and enhance American energy independence. Veiled in the cause to save the planet from the ‘existential threat’ of a ‘climate crisis’, the activists leading the opposition are weakening America’s global standing; making us dependent on others for raw materials and finished goods we are more than capable of creating domestically.

The Keystone XL pipeline’s demise is well-known. With a stroke of Biden’s pen, hundreds of union jobs vanished from payrolls across the Midwest, and the potential of 510,000 barrels of oil a day hitting refineries did as well.  The Mountain Valley Pipeline only exists today because Congress stepped in and approved its completion as part of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, but unlike the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, the underlying act didn’t prohibit legal challenges from continuing. And make no mistake, there are challenges across the country.

In New York, eco-driven politicians have cancelled four natural gas pipeline projects in the last five years. Governor Kathy Hochul is taking her fight against fossil fuels one step further, banning natural gas stoves by 2026, cancelling permits for natural gas-fired power plants and embracing other climate edicts that experts predict will harm the Empire State’s economy.

On the other side of the country, California Governor Gavin Newsom is taking an even more aggressive stance against traditional energy. He’s banned combustion-engine vehicles from being sold in the state beginning in 2035 and prohibited fracking in the state beginning in 2024. Even more frightening to Golden State residents should be his chumminess with Chinese President Xi Jinping. With the two leaders collaborating on climate impacts and increasing government-to-government partnerships, one must wonder what CCP-inspired ideas will be released on Californians next?

Returning to my home state of Alaska, and faced with expected shortages of natural gas by the end of this decade, a proposed LNG pipeline that would nearly mirror the route of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline has been in the works for decades. It has the backing of the federal government in the way of loan guarantees, and – aside from providing Alaska’s Railbelt with decades of capacity – exporting some of Alaska’s gas reserves would help provide other Pacific Rim nations with cleaner alternatives to energy than coal-fired power plants. 

Yet, the eco-zealots pushing back against every possible traditional energy project denigrate the proposed pipeline a “carbon bomb” and have used every tactic available to stymie its progress. They ignore the lack of reliability and high costs of from alternative sources of energy. With Alaska’s weather and cold, dark winters, having reliable power is not only a creature comfort, but a matter of life-and-death.

Fifty years ago, an overwhelming number of legislative and executive-branch leaders came together and did what was right for our nation. The Trans-Alaska pipeline helped the U.S. hold off OPEC aggression in the 1970s, and lead the way in ushering in American energy security. Today, extremism holds many of America’s energy projects hostage, denying the country a chance to build domestic supply chains, enhance our way of life, provide generational jobs and secure our energy and national security in the process.  

Without bold leadership and facts-over-fear action, the future of many of these projects dim daily. It doesn’t have to be that way. For the sake of future generations, let’s change course while we still can.

Rick Whitbeck is Alaska state director for Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates American energy jobs. Email him at [email protected], and follow him on X @PTFAlaska.


  1. The good old boys club got it done, love it. By the way , Nixon brought us the EPA, with Senator Stevens shooting down pebble, good men.

  2. I would dearly like to see the oil companies shut off petroleum products to the states and governors. I want to go carbon free. For all the individuals protesting against carbon products, they need to be turned off of access to gas, electricity, transportation, and anything else that fossil fuels provides. Instead of complaining you carbon free people lead the way and get off of it. I dare you.

    • Good one Mark

      Alaskans use more oil per capita than any people on planet earth . Total assault on us Alaskans from DC is what I call it . Both of our senators have done very questionable stuff that’s keeps Alaska very expensive to live while working and supporting the crazies on the left . Haaland is one of them . They both supported her . Yep Dan , yep Lisa .

      The cost of basic food in Fairbanks has doubled in the last three years . Grocery shelve are mostly bare . Fred’s by the airport stocks about 40 percent of what is used to on the shelves . Not to mention fuel costs in the interior or try and get some fuel delivered , takes weeks . I am convinced the only reason to truck Natural gas to Fairbanks is to keep home heating fuel expensive .

      The big banks will not loan capital for North Slope oil extraction . They’ve come out publicly and stated this . Our $80,000,000,000.00 permanent fund is mostly invested in these banks that won’t help Alaska extract its oil ? Maybe it’s time to take a look into the investment managers of the permanent fund , or maybe just put a manager on the questions this ? How about it Governor ?

      PS while your at it Gov , figure out what’s going on with the snow cleanup in Anchorage . It’s getting to be a bigger problem than the homeless issue

    • And still to this day working against Alaska and TAPS. The only thing He hasnt flip flopped on.
      He went from voting against bussing of blacks to white schools to bussing of whites out of business.
      He went from criminalizing everything including “jaywalking” to not seemingly care about cocaine in his “white house” (which by the way has a new meaning)

  3. On a different note, is anyone else having problems with the MRAK website over the past few days? It will no longer update for me — whenever I click on my link for MRAK, I just see the EXACT same arrangement and listing of articles, with the same number of comments. I am forced now to go into my computer’s history, and delete everything related to MRAK, before reloading the page; then I do immediately see it updated, but only by doing all that. This was never how it worked in the past.

  4. Maybe try putting your real name in Jefferson to start . Maybe quit hammering on everyone who puts comment in . You act like a Chinese bot ! Sincerely Dg , and yah that’s real Jefferson

  5. Bill called me in late ’77 & asked if I would build him his pipeline.

    On June 20, 1977 at 9:30 AM we hit the switch at PS #1.

    What a mess – there was one flange that had never been tightened – oil sprayed everywhere – Embarrassing

    Restarted several hours later.

    Still operating today.

  6. Nice of the natives to sign the settlement act which they were not required to do to forego their bona-fide authenticated legal ownership interests to three/quarters of Alaskan acreage as a legal prerequisite for this resource extraction that turned to be only a temporary benefit to them directly. CLEVER BUT DEVIOUS DEMOCRATS.


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