Black Gold at Rainbows End

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The Brooks Range in Alaska is a remote and nearly pristine wilderness. During the summer months the sun doesn’t even set on these arctic lands. As Alaska’s northernmost mountain range this is the last hurdle before the land known as the Northern slope makes its way into the Arctic Sea. Humans have had little presence in this cold, remote frontier. That is with the exception of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline, which runs for nearly 800 miles across the grand Alaskan landscape.

The pipeline is one of humanity’s modern engineering marvels. It transports 800,000 barrels of oil a day out of the depths of the arctic freeze. It withstood a massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake in 2002 without dropping a single bit of oil. When it was being constructed it was believed by many environmental groups that it might have irreversible effects on the wildlife, the great caribou herd being of greatest concern. Since its completion the herd has increased from 6,000 to more than 27,000 caribou. This pipeline is one of America’s great success stories, the pipe that transports black gold.

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