Public comment is open online, telephone town halls are scheduled
The MPCA’s comment period for the draft 401 water quality certification, draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System/State Disposal System wastewater permit and draft capped air emission permit application for Enbridge’s Line 3 project runs from March 2, 2020 – April 10, 2020.
Enbridge Energy (Enbridge) is proposing to construct a new oil pipeline in Minnesota to replace its existing Line 3 pipeline. The new pipeline will follow the existing Line 3 pipeline from North Dakota to the Clearbrook Terminal in Clearwater County, Minnesota. From the Clearbrook Terminal eastward, Enbridge proposes that the pipeline be constructed in a new right-of-way, south of the existing Line 3, ending at an existing terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge is proposing that the existing Line 3 pipeline be permanently deactivated and remain in place.
The purpose of the project is to address pipeline integrity and safety concerns related to the existing Line 3 and to restore the throughput of the line to its original operating capacity of 760,000 barrels per day (bpd).
Enbridge will need multiple approvals from state agencies, including the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, in order to proceed. The MPCA's role is to protect water, land and air, which it does, in part, through the environmental permitting process. The permits the company would need from the MPCA are described below.
When any facility submits an application to MPCA to obtain a permit, technical staff review the application and evaluate whether the facility can meet applicable environmental regulations and standards. If so, the MPCA then develops facility-specific permit conditions. These permit conditions ensure that all standards are met by limiting the type and amount of water discharges or air emissions, specifying how the facility must be operated, and describing monitoring that must be conducted.
Once drafted, most permits require a formal public notice where the draft permits are made available for public review and comment. After public notice, the permits are revised to reflect any changes to address comments from the public. To issue the permit, the MPCA must be satisfied that the permit provides for meeting all applicable rules and regulations and that the applicant will comply with all conditions of the permit.
For the proposed Enbridge Line 3 project, the MPCA’s role involves the following:
- Air quality permit
- 401 water quality certification
- Construction stormwater permit
- Industrial wastewater permit
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is committed to a fair, efficient, and thorough review of Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project applications. On September 27, 2019, the MPCA denied without prejudice Enbridge’s request for 401 certification because additional information was needed to ensure compliance with water quality standards. Enbridge sent a revised 401 certification application on November 15, 2019.
The MPCA revised the project schedule after the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s decision on February 3, 2020, to approve the project. The revised schedule includes a 30-day public comment period starting March 2, early tribal notice, and public engagement opportunities for the 401 water quality certification and NPDES wastewater permit.
Ahead of the public comment period, the MPCA will release its draft 401 certification and NPDES wastewater permit on February 26, 2020. The early release of draft permits and certification will provide the public additional time to review before the start of the 30-day comment period.
In addition, recognizing and supporting the unique status of Minnesota Tribal Nations, and to facilitate meaningful and timely engagement, the MPCA will give Tribes a minimum of two weeks to review the drafts before the start of the comment period.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers set August 15, 2020, as the deadline for MPCA's decision on the 401 certification.
Public comment is now open for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s draft 401 water quality certification, draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System/State Disposal System wastewater permit and draft capped air emission permit application for Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline replacement project. Public comment runs from Monday, March 2 through Friday, April 10, 2020. For specific information on how to comment on each draft visit: