TransCanada Corp. on Monday notified the U.S. State Department that it intends to file in the "near future" a Presidential Permit application for a cross-border permit for part of the original $7 billion, 1,700-mile Keystone XL oil pipeline project running from the U.S.-Canada border in Montana to Steele City, Nebraska. The Calgary, Alberta-based pipeline company said it eventually would file a supplement to the new application with an alternative route in Nebraska.

TransCanada also told the State Department that the Cushing, OK, to U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GOM) coast part of Keystone XL would be developed as an independent project, noting that it has "its own independent value to the marketplace" and would be constructed as a stand-alone Gulf Coast Project, apart from the Presidential Permit process. The company would focus on building the Gulf Coast Project first.

At an estimated cost of $2.3 billion and still needing regulatory approvals, the Gulf Coast Project could be operable by mid- to late next year, TransCanada said.

A Pew Research Poll last week showed that a majority of Americans (66%) think the federal government should approve Keystone, with only 23% saying they opposed the project. The same poll found that the pipeline project, however, was not a major issue for the general public, with 37% of those polled saying they had never heard of the project and another 40% saying they had only heard a little bit about it.

In acknowledging TransCanada's refiling plans, specifically the Gulf Coast Project portion, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Monday said President Obama "welcomes" the news and looks forward to "working with TransCanada to ensure that it is built in a safe, responsible and timely manner, and we commit to take every step possible to expedite the necessary Federal permits."

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