Murkowski to seek funds for pipeline authority

Posted: Wednesday, February 05, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- Gov. Frank Murkowski plans to appoint a board and seek funding for a new natural gas pipeline authority created by voters in November.

But a spokesman said its unclear how much funding would be requested or who will be appointed.

A voter initiative creating the pipeline authority was approved overwhelmingly in the Nov. 5 statewide elections. The ballot measure creates a state natural gas pipeline authority and gives it power to issue bonds to build a pipeline to Valdez and a liquefied natural gas plant.

The initiative was aimed at getting stranded natural gas reserves on the North Slope to markets.

The sponsor of the initiative, Scott Heyworth, has said the state should put $2 million into the authority. But Murkowski spokesman John Manly said Tuesday the governor has not specified how much money he will seek.

The authority is supposed to come into existence March 1, but Manly said he did not know when Murkowski would appoint board members.

''He's got a stack of boards and commissions he's got to take action on here fairly soon,'' Manly said. ''That one is just going to have to get in line.''

Murkowski has said he would encourage the new authority to coordinate its work with an existing Alaska Gasline Port Authority, created by Valdez, Fairbanks and the North Slope Borough, as well as owners of the gas and other who want to see it brought to market.

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