Cindy Davis & The Associated Press
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has approved a new route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline that avoids the state's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.
Heineman sent a letter Tuesday to President Barack Obama confirming that he would allow the controversial project to proceed in his state.
The pipeline has faced strong resistance in Nebraska from a coalition of landowners and environmental groups who say it would contaminate the Ogallala aquifer, a massive groundwater supply.
Canadian pipeline developer TransCanada and some workers' unions say the project is safe and will create thousands of jobs.
The original route would have run the pipeline through a region of erodible, grass-covered sand dunes. The new route skirts that area.
The pipeline would also run through South Dakota. U.S. Senator John Thune said that the approval clears the way for the State Department and President Obama to approve the presidential permit required for the project.
"The ball is now squarely in the president's court," said Thune. "Now that TransCanada has worked with the state of Nebraska to reroute the pipeline around the Nebraska Sandhills, the president is running out of excuses for delaying this job-creating, domestic energy-producing project. It is time for the president to decide between job creation and energy production or political expediency. I call on the president to immediately lend his support to this bipartisan project so that we can begin investing in America's energy future."