The Minnesota Environmental Policy Act of 1973 established a formal environmental review process to provide information about the environmental impacts of projects before necessary permits or approvals are issued. The environmental review process operates according to rules adopted by the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (EQB) and is carried out by state and local governments, one of which being the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Environmental review is required for a wide variety of projects which are large enough to exceed thresholds established by the EQB rules.
The governmental unit responsible for conducting project-specific environmental review is the agency with primary jurisdiction and expertise for a particular type of project. The projects commonly reviewed by the MPCA include industrial projects, feedlots, wastewater systems and solid waste landfills. When conducting environmental review, the MPCA utilizes two types of documents. The most common type of document is the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) which is prepared for most projects. More detailed Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) are prepared for some of the largest projects.
The MPCA closely integrates environmental review with other permitting and approval processes to promote efficiency and to maximize the amount of useful information made available to other agencies and the public. Two reports have been prepared for the Minnesota Legislature to provide information on MPCA staff hours devoted to environmental review and ways to streamline the environmental review process.
Environmental Assessment Worksheet Hours Report
The 2010 Legislature required the MPCA to prepare a report on the number of EAWs prepared by the MPCA and the numbers of staff hours spent completing the EAW process for individual projects and all projects together.
- FY2011 Legislative Report on Environmental Assessment Worksheets
- FY2010 Legislative Report on Environmental Assessment Worksheets
Questions about this report may be directed to: Craig Affeldt, 651-757-2181 or email@example.com
Environmental Review Streamlining Report
The 2009 Legislature required the MPCA to prepare a report on streamlining Minnesota’s environmental review process while maintaining or improving air, land, and water quality standards.
In September 2009, MPCA held a public informational meeting to consult with stakeholders; related resources are listed here.
- Public Notice in the EQB Monitor
- Public comments received
- Slide presentation
- April 2007 EQB Tech Rep Report
- Comment Form
Questions about this process may be directed to Susan Heffron, 651-757-2417 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Craig Affeldt, 651-757-2181 or email@example.com; or Joe Henderson, 651-757-2424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following documents and links can help you learn more about the environmental review process.
- EAW forms — available from the Environmental Quality Board
- Discussing greenhouse gas emissions in Environmental Review
- Environmental Reviews - Before a Project Starts (fact sheet)
- Petitioning for an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (flowchart)
- Preparing an Environmental Assessment Worksheet - flowchart
- Assessing Cumulative Potential Effects in Environmental Assessment Worksheets
- When is Environmental Review Required for Feedlots?
- Alternative Environmental Assessment Worksheet for Animal Feedlots (PDF Version)
- Guidelines for alternate EAW for animal feedlots
- Environmental Assessment Worksheets and Environmental Impact Statements
- Calculating Air Emission Increases for EAW Applicability
- Air Emissions Risk Analysis Guidance
The Environmental Quality Board (EQB) writes the rules for conducting environmental reviews, as directed under state statute (116.04). Their web site includes many important resources.
- Guide to Minnesota Environmental Review Rules (2010)
- EAW Guidelines - Preparing Environmental Assessment Worksheets
- EQB Monitor - a biweekly publication of the Environmental Quality Board.
- Environmental Quality Board - Statutes and rules
For more information about the MPCA's Environmental Review Program, contact Craig Affeldt at 651-757-2181.