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The epic quest to build an Alaska natural gas pipeline started with a battle royal in the mid-1970s.
The cast of characters included major oil companies, competing coalitions of pipeline owners, environmentalists testing the limits of their newfound clout and Alaska leaders trying to steer the young state’s destiny.
Much of the drama played out in Washington, D.C., before an administrative law judge, who found himself mired in an interminable Kafka-esque hearing on which of three proposed pipelines would be best. But the fight also spilled out of the hearing room into the halls of power in Washington and Ottawa, Canada.
The 1970s fight formed the positions that hardened over the ensuing decades: A national preference for piping gas to the Lower 48, an Alaska tilt toward an LNG project, North Slope producers running hot and cold on a pipeline project and a world appetite for natural gas that kept growing without Alaska gas.