CALGARY – The company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal has re-applied for a U.S. permit to move forward with the multi-billion dollar project.
TransCanada Corp. said this is the next step in making the 2,700-km pipeline a reality.
The project would transport oil from northern Alberta and the midwestern U.S. to the refineries on Gulf Coast.
"This will allow the department of state to get their resources and do some of the planning they need to have in place so they can review this application," said Shawn Howard of TransCanada.
"Ultimately, [they can] make a recommendation to the president about whether to approve or not approve the Keystone XL pipeline."
This is the second time TransCanada has applied for the presidential permit, after Barack Obama's administration axed the company's first attempt late last year.
TransCanada has since tweaked the pipeline route through Nebraska to skirt the environmentally fragile Sand Hills area where much of the environmental clamour centred.
In Canada, the news brought renewed optimism.
"We respect the U.S. permit process and we remain hopeful the proposed pipeline expansion will be approve," said Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford echoed Oliver's remarks.
"I was very encouraged to hear that TransCanada has re-submitted its application. I continue to respect that this is a U.S. decision, but I am optimistic that this review will be guided by science and fact,” she said.
TransCanada is already in the early stages of construction on the southern leg of the project from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf Coast.
The company is hopeful the project will be approved by November and begin construction in the first quarter of 2013.
Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan government has voted to back the pipeline, which will cut through a corner of the province, in spite of opposition from the NDP.
All nine members of Saskatchewan's New Democrats voted against the project.
"The Keystone pipeline project would have potential for huge economic development for the province — lots of jobs, lots of money flowing in, so we are very supportive of it," said MLA Jim Reiter, speaking on behalf of Saskatchewan's minister of energy and resources.
Reiter said it was unfortunate the NDP couldn't support the project.
New Democrats maintained they were not given an opportunity to speak to the motion.
The party said it intended to add an amendment to the motion, which would have led to NDP support, but were not given the opportunity to do so.
-- with files from Lisa Mrazek