ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The nation's governors approved a resolution Tuesday calling for construction of a pipeline linking North Slope natural gas fields to the Lower 48 following an Alaska Highway route into Canada.
''The vote was unanimous,'' said Claire Richardson, a spokeswoman for Gov. Tony Knowles, who pushed the proposal.
''Development of North America's natural gas reserves in Alaska is important to the continued health and growth of the U.S. economy,'' according to the resolution passed by the National Governors Association.
''The largest single untapped supply of natural gas available to North America is in Alaska.''
The resolution recommends that the pipeline follow the Alaska Highway.
North Slope oil producers, who are investing $75 million in a pipeline study, also are considering an alternative undersea pipeline west through the Beaufort Sea to the Mackenzie River in Canada, where Alaska and Canada gas could be brought south to the Lower 48.
''This resolution should send a signal (to the oil companies) that they should think some more about (the offshore route) before proceeding in that direction,'' Knowles said Monday.
The resolution refers to a ''treaty-like'' agreement between the United States and Canada almost three decades ago to build a gas pipeline through Alaska. The route also was authorized by Congress.
''Key rights-of-way and regulatory approvals are still valid, allowing a project to deliver billions of cubic feet per day by 2006 or 2007,'' the resolution says.
The governor said that because large volumes of gas would be available for 40- to 75 years, the project could prove to be an essential step in the nation's long-term energy security.
Knowles said the Alaska route is strongly favored by the governors because it poses the fewest environmental problems. It would follow the route of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline to Fairbanks, and then parallel the Alaska Highway south into Canada.
Knowles stressed the highway route also would benefit the state by giving it access to the natural gas.
''This clearly meets Alaska's interest,'' the governor said. ''It maximizes Alaska jobs and business opportunities. It also is a critical component of acceptance nationally because that is the one route that does not raise any concerns and questions from environmental groups.''
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