The 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline now has half the number of government watchdogs

Credit: Craig McCaa/BLM

The Bureau of Land Management has eliminated several positions in its division that oversees the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Transporting up to 500,000 barrels a day from Alaska’s North Slope to its southern Valdez port, the pipeline is one of the largest conduits of crude oil in the world. According to documents obtained by E&E News, only five staff members now remain to ensure its safe operation. The pipeline's owners—which include ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and BP—will undoubtedly benefit from the reduction in oversight, but it's a dangerous move. Warmer temperatures and melting permafrost (due to climate change, which is caused by the burning of fossil fuels like the one flowing through the pipeline) have led to the settling of sections of Trans-Alaska's support system. And a recent decline in oil production might make the companies less likely to invest in preventative upgrades. Seems like a pretty bad time to take anyone off watch duty.

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