Alaska's House of Representatives has approved a company's plan to pursue a natural gas pipeline that could unlock 4.5 billion cubic feet of gas reserves a day.

The House backed the plan on a 24-16 vote Tuesday. A reconsideration vote is planned Wednesday, but that's usually a formality. If approved then, the bill will go to the state Senate, which must approve or reject it before Aug. 2.

Lawmakers in Alaska's House voted to support Gov. Sarah Palin's proposal to award TransCanada Corp. an exclusive license to pursue federal certification for the 1,715-mile North Slope pipeline.

The license doesn't guarantee pipeline construction. It simply calls for TransCanada to embark on a costly process of pursuing a federal certificate, but also with up to $500 million in state seed money.