401 certification for Enbridge Line 3

Since Enbridge proposes to alter (fill and/or excavate) protected wetlands for the Line 3 project, the company has applied for a permit under Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), governing placement of dredged or fill material into wetlands.  Section 404 permits are issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees such activities. 

The 404 permit requires the applicant to also request a water quality certification from the state under CWA Section 401. This allows the state (in this case the MPCA) to review the proposed activity in order to determine if it will comply with applicable water quality standards, and identify any conditions needed to ensure compliance. If the review finds that water quality will be protected, the 401 certification is issued and the certification and conditions become part of the 404 permit.

The MPCA follows the general process below for processing 401 certification requests. Steps in green indicate opportunities for public participation in the process. 

Red current status arrow pointing to "Respond to comments" on timeline

Current status

On June 3, 2020 the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency granted a contested case hearing on the agency’s draft 401 water quality certification for Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement project. The contested case hearing, expected to be scheduled later this summer, will focus on Enbridge’s water crossing methods to ensure all impacted streams and wetlands are protected. Additional information can be found in the contested case hearing order below.

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. The MPCA is required by the Clean Water Act to make a final decision regarding the 401 certification by November 14, 2020, which is one year after Enbridge submitted its application.

Certification request and supporting documents

Previous documents

More on 401 Certification