Authority backer seeks $2 million budget

Posted: Thursday, January 02, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Scott Heyworth, the chief backer of a ballot initiative creating the state natural gas pipeline authority, is seeking $2 million in funding for the newly created office.

Heyworth met with Revenue Commissioner Bill Corbus and has presented his proposal to Gov. Frank Murkowski, he told the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

The governor's office has so far been noncommittal about the proposal.

Ballot Proposition 3, approved overwhelmingly by voters in the Nov. 5 election, creates the natural gas pipeline authority gives it power to issue bonds to build a natural gas pipeline and liquid natural gas plant. The authority will take effect March 1.

The initiative was aimed at getting stranded natural gas reserves on the North Slope to markets in the Lower 48 or elsewhere. So far, oil companies have been reluctant to commit to building a natural gas pipeline to the Lower 48.

Heyworth sponsored the ballot initiative and now is seeking a commitment from the state to fund the office.

Heyworth proposed the state earmark $350,000 for an executive director and staff, $150,000 for board expenses and $800,000 for consultants.

Heyworth urged the governor to appoint a point person in the administration to develop a policy for the authority, suggesting Lt. Gov. Loren Leman or Murkowski transition team member Bill Noll.

Heyworth also suggested himself as a potential board member, along with Valdez businessman John Kelsey; retired oil executive Ken Thompson; Anchorage Assemblyman Dan Sullivan; former Alaska Permanent Fund director Dave Rose; and Max Hodel, a retired businessman who served in the Hickel administration.

Murkowski has not developed a position on the new authority and the state attorney general is reviewing ballot language, said governor's spokesman John Manly.

Murkowski had backed the initiative during his election campaign and Manly said ''I believe he even voted for it.''

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