The company planning the disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline has proposed a new route through Nebraska that avoids the state's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.
Calgary-based TransCanada submitted a series of proposed routes -- including a preferred alternative -- late Wednesday to Nebraska environmental officials.
The state has become a focus of concern for the 1,700-mile pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. President Barack Obama blocked the pipeline earlier this year, citing uncertainty over the Nebraska route, which would travel above an aquifer that provides water to eight states.
Details of the preferred route were not immediately available. A spokesman for the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality said officials hope to post the full proposal on the Internet as soon as Thursday.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department said federal officials had not received notification of a new route. State Department approval is needed because the $7 billion pipeline would cross a U.S. border.
In January, Obama said there was not enough time for a fair review before a looming deadline forced on him by congressional Republicans. The action did not kill the project but put off a tough choice on the project, which has become a flash point in a bitter partisan fight over jobs and the environment.
Pipeline supporters -- including GOP lawmakers and many business and labor leaders -- call the pipeline an important job creator. Opponents -- including Democrats and environmental groups -- say it would carry "dirty oil" that requires huge amounts of energy to extract. They also worry about a possible spill.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman signed a bill earlier this week that allows the state to proceed with its review of the route, regardless of what happens at the federal level.
Obama said last month he will direct federal agencies to fast-track a segment of the pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas. The 485-mile line from Cushing, Okla., to refineries on the Gulf Coast would remove a bottleneck in the country's oil transportation system, as rising oil production has outgrown pipelines' capacity to deliver oil to refineries.