The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Thursday issued numerous crucial permits and licenses moving the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project closer to construction.
“For several years now, Enbridge has dedicated the resources and time to create the safest replacement line that will provide desperately needed jobs for communities across Northern Minnesota,” said Senator Mark Johnson (R-East Grand Forks). “As demonstrated with the most recent permits, the company has shown time and time again that this project is thought out and will benefit our region as a whole. In Northern Minnesota, we need this project. Our communities continue to be hamstrung by the Governor’s COVID emergency orders, and his reluctance to support this project shows his metrocentric thinking. Now is the time for Governor Walz to reach across the aisle and work with us to secure high paying jobs and safer energy for Minnesotans when we need them most.”
The MPCA issued a 401 water quality certification and approved the capped air emissions and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System wastewater permit necessary for the Line 3 project. The DNR issued permits for work in public waters, wetlands, water appropriation permits for dust suppression, trench and construction dewatering, hydrostatic testing, horizontal directional drilling, and a threatened and endangered species taking permit. Utility crossing licenses were also issued for crossing state lands and public waters.
The MPCA indicates “401 certification requires Enbridge to take every precaution to safeguard 730 acres of wetlands and more than 200 streams in northern Minnesota. To protect water quality, the 401 certification requires 35 specific conditions to ensure compliance with state water quality standards, including extensive mitigation and post-construction restoration requirements, seasonal restrictions, and protections for wild rice waters.”
The DNR work and water appropriations permit ensure waters, wetlands, aquatic plants, reptiles, and fish are protected so that water use is sustainable. The threatened and endangered species taking permit addresses activities that may impact any state-listed threatened or endangered species. The permit requires over $2.5 million in compensatory mitigation for incidental takings affecting nine plant species. These funds will be used for research, conservation planning, surveys, land protection, and/or land management activities that contribute to the recovery of these species.
Gaining a construction stormwater permit, which involves the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issuing a Section 404 permit, is the final step before Enbridge can begin construction. The MPCA has that application under review. The stormwater and federal Section 404 permit is another environmental protection element that requires effective measures to prevent construction stormwater from harming lakes, streams, and wetlands.