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.
“Today’s announcement is encouraging news for communities across Northern Minnesota,” said Senator Jason Rarick (R- Brook Park). “Enbridge’s replacement pipeline has been rigorously reviewed, with all agencies unanimously supporting the project. Unfortunately, the project will not be completed for at least an additional year costing jobs, environmental safety, and tax revenue that our region desperately needs despite these positive developments. The fault of that solely lies with Governor Walz and his administration. Moving forward, I hope the Governor respects the wishes of communities in Greater Minnesota, who are overwhelmingly in support of this project, and works with us to foster economic development in communities outside of the Twin Cities.”
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.