Sullivan Recognizes Jeff Streit as “Alaskan of the Week”

WASHINGTON—On the floor of the U.S. Senate yesterday, Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) recognized Jeff Streit, of Fairbanks, the longest-serving employee of the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, which operates and maintains the 800-mile-long Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS). This week, Alyeska celebrates the 45th anniversary of TAPS, which was built in just three years and has moved more than 17 billion barrels of oil. Jeff’s career with TAPS spanned 48 years, beginning in 1974 when he was one of the 70,000 individuals who had a part in building the engineering marvel. Since working on the construction of TAPS, Jeff has worked for Alyeska as a technician at three pump stations, as a task force supervisor, as a project supervisor, as a pump station operations supervisor, as a pipeline technician trainer, and so much more. Jeff was recognized as part of Sen. Sullivan’s series, “Alaskan of the Week.”


Madam President, it is Thursday, and normally, when I am giving this speech, our “Alaskan of the Week” speech--you notice we have a new, pro-energy “Alaskan of the Week” diagram here--normally, when I give this speech, everybody has gone home. The pages love it because it is the most interesting speech of the week. Some of our reporters who like this speech, they are kind of viewing this as the end of the week.

Unfortunately, we are not at the end of the week. There is a lot more business to do for the next day or two or three--who knows?--important business, no doubt about it. But I still want to come down to the floor and talk about a really impressive man who has done incredible stuff for our State. His name is Jeff Streit.

Jeff has been a builder of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline--what we call TAPS--and then has helped run it for 48 years, almost half a century. We are going to talk about Jeff here in a minute. He has done an incredible job. 

I always like to talk a little bit about what is going on in Alaska. All the people who watch this speech--we know there are millions who tune in every Thursday--come on up to Alaska. Come visit. 

What is happening right now is really, really exciting. It is just a few days past summer solstice. Boy, did we celebrate in Alaska: parties, baseball games. The famous Midnight Sun Baseball Game took place in Fairbanks. I talked about that last week. It took place in Fairbanks on Tuesday. The Goldpanners, whom I talked about, the famous Alaskan baseball team, pulled out a 10-to-9 victory in the bottom of the 10th. The crowd of thousands went wild--Midnight Sun baseball. 

So if you are visiting Fairbanks, as many tourists do right now, you might want to check out a baseball game. We have great baseball in Alaska, as I described last week.

You also might want to travel a couple of miles outside of Fairbanks to get a firsthand view of one of the engineering marvels of the world, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, what we call TAPS. That is it right there, a big, beautiful, incredible engineering feat: 800 miles of steel pipeline crossing 3 mountain ranges--one about 5,000 feet high--crossing more than 600 streams and rivers, and has transported over 17 billion barrels of oil to a thirsty America. That is energy security right there.

TAPS has provided countless benefits in terms of tens of thousands of jobs--good union jobs, I might add--not just to Alaskans but to Americans all over the country. I think even one of our Senate colleagues worked on this. It was the largest privately funded infrastructure project ever undertaken in America at the time it was built in the early seventies.

Here is the thing: It took 3 years to build--3 years; that is it--this mammoth, huge, important energy project. 

By the way, we need to get back to that in this country. I and many other Senators are working on that. You can't do an EIS in 6 years. We have to get back to this can-do American spirit, building things that benefit our great Nation in a timely manner. I am going to talk a little bit about that. 

Our Alaskan of the Week, Jeff Streit, was one who did this. He helped construct this incredible engineering feat, and then he stayed on, and he worked for a company in Alaska, a very famous company called Alyeska, which is a consortium of companies that own and run and built the pipeline.

This week, Alyeska celebrated its 45-year anniversary--45 years of supplying a thirsty America with billions and billions and billions of barrels of oil. Everybody should applaud that. 

I know we have some, unfortunately, who think that if you work in the energy sector, somehow you are a bad guy. Actually, you are a hero.

America needs energy. Alaska has a lot of it. Alyeska has produced it and sent it 800 miles down this incredible pipeline to the whole country. So I want to first congratulate Alyeska for their incredible work. 

Jeff, our Alaskan of the Week, is the longest serving employee there. He has been working for Alyeska all of those 45 years and, as I mentioned, started work on TAPS even longer, 48 years in total, because he is one of the Americans--by the way, there were over 30,000 who came up to build this incredible work of energy infrastructure. Forty-eight years, Jeff Streit, Alyeska, building TAPS--what an amazing career. He is our Alaskan of the Week. 

So let me tell you a little bit about Jeff. Jeff's father came to Alaska after World War II, where he flew for the Army Air Corps. 

That is another theme you may have seen on our Alaskan of the Week: a lot of vets, a lot of veteran families. Alaska has more veterans than any State per capita in the country.

Jeff's father worked on projects across the State, married Jeff's mother in 1952 when they were both working on the Alaska-Canada Highway--the ALCAN Highway, as we call it in Alaska.

By the way, you want to talk about building something efficiently in terms of infrastructure that we need in America? The ALCAN Highway--1,600 miles through Canada, all the way to the lower 48--built in 8 months. We can do that, America. We can build great things--ALCAN Highway, TAPS--efficiently. We have just got to get back to it. More on that later. 

Jeff's parents then moved back to Illinois, where Jeff was born, but he might have been raised in Alaska because his parents talked about the great State of Alaska so much--their adventures there, what they did there. So he wanted to go back. 

He went to pre-vet school at Iowa State for 2 years, and the first chance he got, in 1973, he moved to Alaska to work on a farm and go to college at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. 

Now, Madam President, I am sure a lot of our Senate colleagues know this, but for the interns--the pages, I mean--you might remember in the early seventies, studying history, that we had this big energy crisis where energy prices were going up--a little bit familiar, unfortunately, today--going way up, primarily because there was an Arab oil embargo led by the Gulf Arab States, Saudi Arabia, against the United States and other countries. It was devastating. You couldn't get gas. There were lines at gas stations that stretched for blocks. States issued rationing based on odd and even license plates. Prices surged, a little bit like today. Motorists turned on each other. It was bedlam. By the way, it really hurt the economy, like today, in terms of inflation.

Enter the great State of Alaska and our vast, vast energy reserves for America. Congress said: We need to get Alaska moving. We need to get that Alaskan energy to the rest of the country. 

So this body and the House debated the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act--what we call, as I mentioned, TAPS--to build this for the country, and we did it. 

It was drama, Madam President. You are sitting right there in the President of the Senate's seat. The TAPS Act in the U.S. Senate was deadlocked. It was a tie vote here in the Senate, and the Vice President of the United States had to come and break the tie so America could build this for a country that needed energy--American energy, by the way, not energy from the Middle East. 

Another incredible story as it relates to legislation and TAPS was the late, great Congressman  Don Young, a freshman at the time. We just lost our dear Congressman a couple of months ago. He was a brand new freshman in 1973. He got an amendment--and, boy, do we need amendments like this today--that said: On this big infrastructure project, we are going to stop any litigation. We are going to stop more studies. We are just going to build it.

We can do that here, by the way, the Congress. We can say: No more litigation; let's build. And that is what we did. That is what America did.

As the debate was happening here in the Congress, Jeff moved back up to Alaska, visited a local union hall, got on with the Teamsters, and his life's work in Alaska began. 

As I said, Madam President, this was the largest private construction project in our country's history. At its height, we had over 30,000 Americans--great Americans, by the way--building this incredible piece of American energy infrastructure that transformed our State in Alaska, and it transformed America. At one point, this pipeline was producing 2.2 million barrels a day for our Nation. Over 17 billion barrels of oil have flown down that pipeline for America. 

By the way, Madam President, Alaska has billions and billions of barrels of oil left, if our Federal Government would just help us produce it.

Eventually, Jeff got a job, after building TAPS, with Alyeska running TAPS, working at Pump Station 8. In the 48 years since, he has worked nearly every inch of that line as a technician at three pump stations, as a task force supervisor, as a project supervisor, as a pump station operations supervisor, and as a pipeline technician trainer. You get where I am going here, Madam President: He has done it all for Alyeska.

He has great stories and great memories. He remembers the mess halls filled with smoke and laughter and the hard work it took to build this pipeline. He remembers watching “Jaws” at a packed theater camp in the middle of the Alaska wilderness. He remembers the time a Russian delegation came to visit TAPS. The TAPS pump station was so clean.

By the way, Alaska has the highest environmental standards of energy production anywhere in the world.

He said: The Russians came, saw how we produced, saw pump stations, and thought that we were lying about how we produce and transport oil because it was so clean. They thought it was staged.

Jeff said: We were setting standards on the environment--cleanliness, environmental standards--that people across the world didn't think were possible. “It made us proud.”

Well, guess what, we are still doing that in Alaska. Jeff still marvels at the engineers who designed one of the most complicated engineering projects ever built--before computers; using paper, pencils, slide rules. “Every square inch of the system has to be intact to move even one drop of oil,” Jeff said. “If there is a leak anywhere, we shut the whole thing down.” 

It is a testament to so many that this incredible system has kept oil flowing for America for 45 years. That is what Jeff just said about TAPS and Alyeska. 

To keep it running, there are always upgrades, adjustments, installing enhanced monitoring, detection, surveillance, but, as Jeff said, “The pipeline itself is still the same pipeline that was built in the `70s, still doing battle with the geological and meteorological forces,” and still standing strong for our country. 

Jeff has no plans to retire soon. He is still highly engaged. He is still highly curious. He is now taking on a greater mentorship role, including developing and teaching a hydraulics class, emulating those who taught him.

Jeff said: “When I think about the last 48 years, I think about the thousands of people who have made a difference, who helped me and taught me. And I really think that that's what America is all about--passing on values and work ethic[s]” to each other.

That is what America is all about. That is the best of our country: people who work hard, who are loyal to their jobs, to their communities, to their State, to their country, and importantly, who produce important things like American energy, which we need to this day. Jeff is exactly one of those kind of people. He built this, ran it, still runs it, and our Nation still needs it. 

So, Jeff, thank you for all that you have done. 

Thanks to the workers at Alyeska who are currently working right now, 24/7, to keep hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day, which we need, coming down the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

A big congratulations to Alyeska for 45 years and 17 billion barrels of oil for America.

That company, Alyeska, has produced many great leaders--Jeff being one and Tom Barrett, my good friend, being another. And I just want to say to him—to everybody at Alyeska but particularly to Jeff--congratulations on being our Alaskan of the Week. You people who are producing American energy are American heroes. We need more of you, and we really appreciate all you have done for our great State and our great Nation.

I yield the floor. 

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