UPDATE 2-Nebraska environment report favors revised Keystone XL pipe plan
* New route would avoid sensitive Sand Hills region-report
* Nebraska governor has 30 days to decide on proposed route
* Report says any spills would be "localized"
* U.S. State Department's Keystone assessment due soon
By Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON, Jan 4 (Reuters) - The controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline received a boost on Friday when Nebraska regulators said its proposed new route would avoid many of the ecologically-sensitive areas that led the U.S. government to block it last year.
The new route for the $5.3 billion Alberta-to-Nebraska pipeline, backed by TransCanada Corp, would avoid the ecologically sensitive Sand Hills region but would still cross part of the massive Ogallala aquifer, the Nebraska environment regulator said.
If built, Keystone XL would link Canada's booming oil sands production with the refineries and ports of Texas' Gulf Coast, carrying some 830,000 barrels of oil per day. The project has been targeted by environmentalists concerned about carbon emissions from oil sands production and the risks posed by oil spills to water supplies in the Midwest.
The U.S. State Department is working with Nebraska as it forms its own environmental assessment of pipeline that is one piece of a continental realignment of oil flows between Canada and the United States. Continued...