ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Backers of a voter-approved effort to build a gas pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez are upset with Gov. Frank Murkowski's decision to put just $150,000 into the state-owned authority the voters mandated.
''You can't do anything'' with $150,000, said Scott Heyworth, main sponsor of the All-Alaska Gasline initiative.
The governor could come back and ask the Legislature for more money later, said John Manly, a spokesman for Murkowski. The $150,000, he said, is to look at what needs to be done.
Heyworth asked the state for $2 million. Money is needed for employees and for negotiations with the gas producing companies, to meet with potential buyers in Asia and to look into acquiring permits, Heyworth said.
The initiative was approved in November with 62 percent of the vote. It was among the most popular questions on the ballot, and nearly 140,000 Alaskan voters favored it.
Fairbanks Republican Rep. Jim Whitaker proposed giving the authority $1.3 million. But the House Finance Committee on Saturday rolled the figure back to $150,000, saying that's all the governor wants.
''I absolutely disagree with the (Murkowski) administration's position on this,'' said Whitaker, citing voter support for the initiative.
Manly indicated the voters didn't know what they were doing.
''I bet if you ask most of the people who voted for it, they didn't look at the details that deeply to know it was a gas line to Valdez,'' Manly said.
Heyworth was incensed at that notion. The ballot language was clear, he said.
''People are not stupid,'' Heyworth said. ''That is an insult to the voters' intelligence.'' He said the governor should fund the voter-approved gas authority, at least to keep the state's options open.
Heyworth claims that the route to Valdez has a better chance of success than a pipeline to connect with the Lower-48 network, and that the economic benefits to the state would be greater than a route down the Alaska Highway through Canada to the Lower 48.
''I believed Frank Murkowski when he told me he would appoint me to the authority and would endorse the will of the voters if (the initiative) passed,'' Heyworth said. ''That has happened. I'm waiting.''
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