Judge: Alaska Governor Cannot Sign Pipeline Contract without Legislature


An Alaskan judge ruled yesterday that Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) cannot sign a $25 billion natural gas pipeline contract with the state's three largest oil companies without the state Legislature's approval.

Judge Niesje Steinkruger granted an injunction requested last week by eight members of the Legislative Council, a 14-member joint committee of state Senate and House members, after the governor refused to say he would not sign the contract without lawmakers' consent.

"That's all we wanted," said state Sen. Ralph Seekins (R). "We were right."

Seekins is not on the council but joined the suit on his own behalf.

Murkowski has been working on his $25 billion contract with BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp. for several years. The port authority's plan would have a large gas pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Delta Junction and a smaller, 1.2 billion-cubic-foot line to Valdez for liquefied natural gas shipments to the West Coast (Greenwire, Nov. 3).

Murkowski lost to Gov.-elect Sarah Palin (R) in the August primary. He leaves office Dec. 4, leaving him little time to decide whether to appeal the ruling. Murkowski spokesman John Manly said the governor's office was reviewing the judge's ruling to decide if it should appeal (AP/Anchorage Daily News, Nov. 10). -- EB

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