FOSSTON – The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Thursday issued numerous crucial permits and licenses moving the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project closer to construction.
The $2.9 billion project replaces an aging pipeline currently operating at about 50 percent capacity with 337 miles of new pipeline stretching across northern Minnesota.
“I appreciate this project has finally advanced to this point because replacing the old, obsolete pipeline is long overdue,” said Rep. Steve Green, R-Fosston. “The permitting process for Line 3 has been beyond diligent and project leaders have proven themselves and their plan time and time again. This will be a huge boost for our region, with improved safety and an infusion of billions of dollars of private investment into northern Minnesota’s economy. Our counties will benefit from added tax revenues and our labor force, including our tribal communities, will see added jobs and financial security.”
The MPCA issued a 401 water quality certification and approved the capped air emissions and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System wastewater permit necessary for the Line 3 project. The DNR issued permits for work in public waters, wetlands, water appropriation permits for dust suppression, trench and construction dewatering, hydrostatic testing, horizontal directional drilling, and a threatened and endangered species taking permit. Utility crossing licenses were issued also for crossing state lands and public waters.
The MPCA indicates “401 certification requires Enbridge to take every precaution to safeguard 730 acres of wetlands and more than 200 streams in northern Minnesota. To protect water quality, the 401 certification requires 35 specific conditions to ensure compliance with state water quality standards, including extensive mitigation and post-construction restoration requirements, seasonal restrictions, and protections for wild rice waters.”
The DNR work and water appropriations permits ensure waters, wetlands, aquatic plants, reptiles and fish are protected and that water use is sustainable. The threatened and endangered species taking permit addresses activities that may impact any state-listed threatened or endangered species. The permit requires over $2.5 million in compensatory mitigation for incidental takings affecting nine plant species. These funds will be used for research, conservation planning, surveys, land protection and/or land management activities that contribute to the recovery of these species.
Gaining a construction stormwater permit, which involves the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issuing a Section 404 permit, is the final step before Enbridge can begin construction. The MPCA has that application under review. The storm water and federal Section 404 permit is another element of environmental protection that require effective measures be in place to prevent construction stormwater from harming lakes, streams, and wetlands.
“This project is on the brink of beginning construction and I look forward to the groundbreaking,” Green said. “That will be a great day for the people of our area after what has been a long, bumpy ride to get this project through the state’s regulatory system.”