WASHINGTON - Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approved on Tuesday a new route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which has been held up for more than a year in part because of objections to the pipeline in the state.
The approval by the governor, a Republican, is one of the last remaining hurdles the pipeline has to clear before getting a final permit from the Obama administration.
The other major development will come from the U.S. State Department, which is working on a separate analysis of the pipeline's new route. The department is expected to release a draft of those findings in coming days.
Canadian pipeline operator TransCanada Corp. (TRP, TRP.T) first submitted an application for Keystone XL in 2008. It devised a new route through Nebraska in 2012 after landowners and lawmakers in the state said they wanted the pipeline to avoid an ecologically sensitive area known as the Sand Hills. The new route travels east of the Sand Hills region.
Heineman's approval for the pipeline was largely expected after Nebraska's Department of Environmental Quality determined earlier this month that the pipeline was mostly safe.
The Obama administration rejected a permit for the pipeline in early 2012, saying a congressionally mandated deadline for a decision made it difficult to conduct a thorough review of the state's concerns.
The pipeline, which would extend from Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Neb., continues to face strong opposition from national environmental groups. They say the pipeline will contribute to global warming by bolstering extraction of Canadian oil sands, which emit more greenhouse gases during production than other types of oil.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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