JUNEAU, Alaska, April 21 (UPI) -- Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell said the passage of a bill making the state a partner with the private sector on a gas pipeline was an "historic moment" for the state.
The state House of Representatives passed a Senate bill by 36-4 that makes the state a partner in the development of a large-diameter natural gas pipeline planned from the North Slope.
"This is truly a historic moment for Alaskans," the governor said in a statement Sunday. "By passing Senate Bill 138, the legislature has put Alaska on a path to controlling her own destiny by becoming an owner in the Alaska liquefied natural gas project."
Parnell said the bill creates a framework for the state to become a co-owner in the project with BP, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips and pipeline company TransCanada Corp.
The governor's office said the project now moves to the preliminary engineering and design phase. Construction of the project could begin in 2019.
Opponents of the measure said the bill makes it possible for the state to eventually cede its stake in the project to the energy companies planning the $45 billion project.