Alberta Premier Alison Redford released a statement on Tuesday praising the Governor of Nebraska for approving an alternate route for the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman approved a new route for the Canada-linked Keystone XL oil pipeline that avoids the state's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region and sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama confirming that he would allow the pipeline to proceed through his state.

The project has faced some of its strongest resistance in Nebraska from a coalition of landowners and environmental groups who say it would contaminate the Ogallala aquifer, a massive groundwater supply.

TransCanada and some workers' unions say the project is safe and will create thousands of jobs.

In his letter to Obama, Heineman said the new 320 kilometre route through Nebraska avoids the Sandhills but would still cross part of the aquifer. He said any spills would be localized, and the clean-up responsibilities would fall to TransCanada.

 Alberta Premier Alison Redford released a statement saying she welcomes the governor’s decision:

 “On behalf of the Government of Alberta I welcome Governor Heineman’s decision to permit the routing of the Keystone XL pipeline through his state.

“Alberta recognizes the hard work that Nebraska has put into reviewing the new route to ensure that the final approval responded to the interests and concerns of Nebraskans.

“We were pleased to see the Governor carefully reviewed a state report that concluded environmental concerns were minimal, economic benefits to his state were high and that a pipeline carrying oil sands crude should not be treated differently than any other crude.

“We respect and understand that approval of the pipeline is a U.S. domestic matter and that this is just one step in the process that will ultimately be decided by the president.

“Continued and new market access for Alberta’s globally-important crude resources is the single-most critical issue facing our province.

“As our largest trading partner, our neighbour and our friend, we will continue to promote the importance of Alberta’s resources as a critical component in helping to achieve North American energy independence and economic security.”

Canada's Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver also issued a statement saying:

"Our government welcomes the positive decision by the Nebraska Governor, Dave Heineman, to approve the rerouting of the Keystone XL pipeline. We support the Keystone XL project because it benefits jobs and the economic growth of both Canada and the United States. This important project is expected to create thousands of jobs and generate revenue to governments to support our critical social programs, including health care and education. Our desire is to work with the Obama Administration in achieving final approval. We believe Keystone XL will enhance the future economic prosperity and security of both Canada and the United States."

Governor Heineman says the project will result in US$418.1 million in economic benefits for the state and $16.5 million in taxes from the pipeline construction materials.

TransCanada Corp. says the Nebraska governor's approval of a new route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline brings the United States one step closer to "enhanced energy security."

"I fully expect a continued barrage of lawsuits but I don't expect any to stick because we've done things the way they were supposed to be done with respect to landowners issues, regulatory issues, we've done what we're supposed to do," said Russ Girling of TransCanada Corp.

The pipeline still requires the approval of the U.S. State Department and the President.

A decision is expected in March and will likely come with several conditions.

(With files from The Assiciated Press and