FAIRBANKS(AP) -- Interior residents have thrown their support behind an Alaska Highway route for a proposed natural gas pipeline.
About 200 people Wednesday attended the first public hearing held in the state on the proposed pipeline.
The Alaska Highway Natural Gas Policy Council heard from about 25 Interior residents, some of whom offered down-to-earth advice on how to build the gas line.
''We do plan on building the next pipeline,'' said Bert Bell, president of the Associated General Contractors of Alaska. ''We need to predict pipeline needs to our current work force needs.''
Several industry leaders gave detailed presentations that covered the state's readiness to provide a work force, one company's ownership of existing permits and the growth potential of Fairbanks after the line is built.
''I've talked to industry leaders a lot about the gas line. It's nice to hear from people where the rubber meets the road,'' said Gov. Tony Knowles, who attended the hearing.
Native leaders representing Stevens Village, Healy Lake and Tanacross were on hand to support the project and to ask that they be included in the planning process, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. The gas line could eventually cross the tribal lands of those villages and others.
Union and construction representatives said they needed assurances from the state.
One woman from Salcha called for junior and senior high school vocational training for students now in school, who could possibly be of work age by the time pipeline construction begins.
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