11/13/2014 05:27 EST | Updated 01/13/2015 05:59 EST

Prentice cautiously optimistic as Keystone pipeline faces key U.S. House vote

EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Jim Prentice says he is encouraged there appears to be increasing bipartisan support in the United States for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Prentice says he remains cautiously optimistic about the pipeline's future as the House of Representatives prepares to vote on the project Friday.

If approved, a bill on TransCanada Corp.'s (TSX:TRP) Keystone proposal would move to the Senate and then to U.S. President Barack Obama.

The US$8-billion line would take bitumen from Alberta diagonally across the continent to refineries and ports in Texas.

Prentice has said getting Alberta oil to coastal ports is crucial to growing the provincial and Canadian economies.

The line has been tied up in the approval process for six years and has faced stiff opposition from environmentalists.