* TransCanada submits Presidential permit application
* Company to outline new Nebraska route later
* Pipeline was put on hold over environmental concerns
May 4 (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp has asked the U.S. government for approval to build the $7.6 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline, which has been put on hold due to environmental concerns.
The company said in a statement on Friday that it has submitted an application with the U.S. Department of State for the pipeline from the United States and Canada border in Montana to Steele City, Nebraska.
TransCanada said it will choose an alternative route through Nebraska to avoid an environmentally sensitive area.
The pipeline, put on hold by U.S. President Barack Obama earlier this year, has become an outsized political symbol heading into the November elections as Republicans use it to attack Obama's economic and energy policies.
Environmental groups have vehemently opposed Keystone over the risk posed by spills from the pipeline and on the basis that crude from Canada's oil sands is dirtier than other types of crude oil.
Alberta, Canada's richest province, derives about a third of its revenue from its vast reserves of oil and natural gas. Its oil sands are the world's third-largest crude storehouse, and it is the single biggest supplier of energy to the United States.
TransCanada argues that its environmental review process was sound and should allow for the permit to be processed quickly.
"Our application for a Presidential permit builds on more than three years of environmental review already conducted for Keystone XL," said TransCanada Chief Executive Russ Girling in the company's statement. "It was the most comprehensive process ever for a cross-border pipeline."
The entire project would take more than two years to build once permits were in hand. TransCanada said last month that it hopes to have the project up and running by late 2014 or early 2015.