Legislature approves advancing gas line project

JUNEAU — The Alaska Legislature has passed a bill setting the state's participation in a major liquefied natural gas project.

The House voted 36-4 on the measure Sunday. The Senate later voted 16-4 to agree to the House changes.

SB138, from Gov. Sean Parnell, would set state participation at about 25 percent in a project also being pursued TransCanada, the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., and the North Slope's major players. It would allow the project to move to a stage of preliminary engineering and design and cost refinement.

It also would allow the state to negotiate project-enabling contracts that would be brought back to lawmakers for consideration.

Some supporters expressed cautious optimism that this would lead to a long hoped-for project. Critics questioned if this was the best deal for the state.

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