WASHINGTON - Legislation that would allow TransCanada's controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline to proceed has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives — a move the White House has vowed to shoot down.
The move comes on the same day TransCanada announced it has submitted a proposal to Nebraska officials for a new route through the state for the disputed pipeline.
The Keystone XL pipeline project was included as part of a larger bill passed by the House that finances road projects through stopgap measures.
But the White House has vowed to veto the legislation because it mandates the construction of the Alberta-to-Texas oil pipeline that President Barack Obama earlier blocked.
Republicans, who control the House, added the requirement to build the Keystone XL pipeline project, but the White House argues such a requirement would bypass long-standing practices on how to approve cross-border pipelines.
Tuesday's statement from the White House noted that a pipeline route has yet to be identified.
TransCanada said in a statement Wednesday that it has submitted a planned route for the pipeline to Nebraska officials. The state has become a focus of concern for the 2,735-kilometre pipeline, which would carry oil from Alberta's oilsands to refineries in Texas.
When Obama blocked the pipeline he cited uncertainty over a planned route intended to avoid Nebraska's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.
Details of the new route were not immediately available. A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department said officials had not received notification of a new route. State Department approval is need because the US$7-billion pipeline crosses a U.S. border.
Obama's stance on the Keystone plan has endured ferocious Republican attacks, with Republicans calling the move a blow to job creation and U.S. energy needs.
The president maintains Republican leaders in Congress forced his hand by insisting on a decision before an acceptable pipeline route was found.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has voiced disappointment with Obama's decision. He also visited China in February to explore alternatives.
Canada has the world's third-largest oil reserves, more than 170 billion barrels, after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, and daily production of 1.5 million barrels from the oil sands is expected to rise to 3.7 million by 2025.
Environmentalists have mounted an extensive campaign against Keystone XL, assailing the plan to transport millions of barrels a week of bitumen — an energy source they decry as "dirty oil" — to the Gulf Coast.