Environmental review is a formal process for thoroughly investigating the environmental impacts of a proposed project’s impacts on air, water, land, and human health — before a project is started.
MPCA's environmental review has two main purposes:
- to inform the decision makers so we can write better permits and better protect the environment before the project is built.
- to give the public access to decision makers, to help ensure public awareness and meaningful input into public and private decision making.
Why is it important?
Because unanticipated environmental consequences can be very costly to undo, and environmentally sensitive areas can be impossible to restore. Environmental review creates the opportunity to anticipate problems and ways to avoid or minimize them before the project is permitted and built.
Environmental review is an information gathering process, it is not the final decision on whether a project will happen or not.
When the review identifies unacceptable environmental impacts, the proposers of a project can modifiy it to avoid problems. The information is also used to establish permit conditions that will protect our environment.
What kind of project needs environmental review and who conducts it?
Environmental review is required for a wide variety of projects large enough to exceed thresholds set by Environmental Quality Board (EQB) rules — such as new or expanding industrial projects, feedlots, wastewater systems, landfills. These are generally larger projects that could have significant environmental impacts.
The Environmental Quality Board (EQB) writes the rules for conducting environmental reviews — what projects go through the process, what government agency is responsible, and how to conduct the review.
Local governments, state agencies, or joint powers organizations are primarily responsible for environment review. The government agency may be different for different types of projects, depending on jurisdiction and expertise for a particular type of project.
- Guide to Minnesota Environmental Review Rules (2010)
- Environmental Quality Board - Statutes and rules
Environmental Review Pre-screening form
Environmental review is required for projects that meet or exceed the mandatory thresholds for Environmental Assessment Worksheets and Environmental Impact Statements set by EQB rules. The Environmental Review Pre-Screening Form is designed to help you, and the MPCA staff, determine if your project requires environmental review before proceeding with the permitting process.
Important Note: To avoid unnecessary and costly delays in your project, complete and submit this form with your permit application.
After you submit this form, the MPCA will notify you regarding the need to conduct environmental review on your project. If you need help with this form or have questions about environmental review, please contact Environmental Review staff at 651-296-6300 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Types of environmental review
There are two types of environmental review documents: environmental assessment worksheets and environmental impact statements.
Environmental Assessment Worksheets
Environmental Assessment Worksheets (EAW) are the most common environmental review document prepared. They are shorter and less intensive.
Resources for Environmental Assessment Worksheets
- EAW Guidelines - Preparing Environmental Assessment Worksheets
- EAW forms — available from the Environmental Quality Board
- Preparing an Environmental Assessment Worksheet - flowchart
- Assessing cumulative potential effects in Environmental Assessment Worksheets
- Calculating Air Emission Increases for EAW Applicability
- Alternative Environmental Assessment Worksheet for Animal Feedlots (PDF Version)
- Guidelines for alternate EAW for animal feedlots
Environmental Impact Statements
Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) are longer and more comprehensive. They are conducted for the largest projects or when an EAW identifies potential impacts that need further investigation.
- Environmental Reviews - Before a Project Starts (fact sheet)
- Discussing greenhouse gas emissions in Environmental Review
- When is Environmental Review required for feedlots?
- Air Emissions Risk Analysis Guidance
How do I participate?
You can comment on any project undergoing environmental review. When notice and information about the project is published in the EQB monitor, the notice will describe how and when to comment.
- EQB Monitor - a biweekly publication of the Environmental Quality Board. EQB Monitor - a biweekly publication of the Environmental Quality Board.
You can request that a project undergo environmental review.
For more information about environmental review, contact Dan Card at 651-757-2261.