TransCanada has submitted a report to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) to assess alternative routing corridors for the proposed $7bn Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The agency will now review possible routes for the 1,700-mile pipeline from Canada's oil sands to refineries in Texas, which would carry heavy crude oil to Gulf Coast refineries.
Following the passage of a recent bill, which became effective on 18 April 2012, NDEQ has the authority to review major oil pipeline projects proposed in Nebraska, which will be included in a federal agency environmental review.
NDEQ director Mike Linder said: "Public participation will be important throughout this review, and NDEQ will make every effort to provide information and invite comment throughout the process."
Following public comments, the agency will give initial feedback to TransCanada on the report, regarding the route for the pipeline.
The company will develop a final evaluation report, which will be presented to the governor for submission to the federal government.
The project is expected to be in service by early 2015.
Environmental groups have campaigned against the pipeline, arguing that it would cross through an agricultural aquifer. The Canadian oil sands to be transported are also considered to be more carbon-sensitive compared to other crudes.
Image: TransCanada intends to construct the Keystone XL pipeline to carry oil from tar sands in Alberta to the Gulf Coast refineries. Photo courtesy of: Qyd.