01/22/2013 04:29 EST | Updated 01/22/2013 08:33 EST

Keystone XL Pipeline: Alison Redford Supports Nebraska's Route Approval


Alberta Premier Alison Redford lent her support to the governor of Nebraska after the embattled executive approved a new route for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline on Tuesday.

Amid fierce opposition from environmental groups, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman wrote to U.S. President Barack Obama confirming that he would allow the Alberta-to-Texas oil pipeline to go through his state along a revised route that skirts an environmentally sensitive area.

“On behalf of the Government of Alberta I welcome Governor Heineman’s decision to permit the routing of the Keystone XL pipeline through his state," Redford said.

She said Alberta recognizes the hard work Nebraska put into the review of the pipeline, including a state report that concluded environmental concerns were minimal while economic benefits were high.

Canada's Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver also welcomed the news.

"We support the Keystone XL project because it benefits jobs and the economic growth of both Canada and the United States," Oliver said, adding that the project would create thousands of jobs and generate revenue for social programs including health care and education.

He expressed the desire to work with the Obama administration for achieving final approval of the pipeline.

The $7-billion project would carry bitumen extracted from Alberta's oilsands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

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The project has faced fierce opposition from environmental groups, including strong resistance in Nebraska, where a coalition of landowners and environmental groups say it would contaminate the Ogallala aquifer, a massive groundwater supply.

Obama rejected the pipeline last year after environmental groups put enormous pressure on his government. But the government invited TransCanada, the pipeline giant that owns Keystone XL, to file a new application with an altered route that would skirt an ecologically sensitive area in Nebraska.

"A pipeline carrying oil sands crude should not be treated differently than any other crude," said Redford.

“New market access for Alberta’s globally-important crude resources is the single-most critical issue facing our province," said Redford, adding that the government would continue to promote Alberta's resources as a critical component in achieving North American energy independence and economic security.

With files from CP