On June 3, 2020, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced it was granting a contested case hearing on the agency’s draft 401 water quality certification for Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement project. On June 26, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) released the scheduling order for the contested case hearing. The full schedule is found here. Key dates:
Hearing: August 24-28, 2020
Administrative law judge report: October 16, 2020
To accommodate a contested case hearing, the MPCA received approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to extend its deadline for the 401 certification from August 15 to November 14, 2020.
Friends of the Headwaters, Sierra Club, and Honor the Earth, with the White Earth Band of Ojibwe and the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians raised the following issues of fact that the MPCA granted in its hearing:
- Does Enbridge’s proposed use of trench methods for stream crossings have temporary or permanent impacts on water quality parameters of concern?
- Have Enbridge and the MPCA identified the least degrading crossing method that is prudent and feasible for each stream crossing?
- Have Enbridge and the MPCA undercounted the full acreage of the project’s wetland impacts due to flaws in wetland delineation and survey methodologies related to the seasonality of delineation activities?
- Have Enbridge and the MPCA undercounted the full acreage of wetlands that are physically altered by trenching?
- Have Enbridge and the MPCA incorrectly determined that the impacts to wetlands that are physically altered by trenching are temporary?
While a contested case hearing moves forward, the MPCA continues to review comments submitted for the draft air and NPDES permits. Once the review is completed, the agency will use the public’s feedback to make any needed adjustments to the draft permits. After comment review is complete and any necessary changes identified, the MPCA will determine permit timelines.
For more information on the MPCA’s permitting process for Line 3, visit its web pages