Line 3 Replacement Project

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Environmental Permitting

Enbridge is fully committed to protecting the areas our pipelines cross during construction and operation of our pipeline system. Replacing an aging pipeline with new, modern construction is the safest and best option for protecting the environment. The project route, facility design, and construction procedures have been designed to minimize impacts on the environment.

Environmental impacts related to construction of the pipeline will primarily be related to temporary disturbance to land, wetlands, and waterbodies. Environmental impacts related to operations of the pipeline will primarily be related to maintenance repairs and mowing activities. In 2014, Enbridge started working with federal, state, and local regulatory agencies to design project plans and permit conditions to minimize impacts to the environment. Enbridge will retain environmental inspectors (EIs) during Project construction who will be responsible for understanding all regulatory requirements and permit conditions, and ensuring that contractors abide by these conditions. The project will also be supervised by third-party environmental monitors who will report any concerns directly to appropriate agencies.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) began tribal consultation for the proposed Line 3 Replacement Project on September 2, 2015. They reached out to 43 Tribes, resident Tribes and those with ancestral ties to the area and continues to consult with 39 Tribes. Led by Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, a tribal cultural survey was conducted along the Project corridor, across Minnesota and into North Dakota. With eyes and feet to the ground for more than 350 miles identifying significant cultural resources to be avoided, the tribal survey crews re-visited previously recorded sites, expanded/changed boundaries of a few previously documented sites, and identified 22 archaeological resources. In total, 15 locations were recommended for avoidance and Enbridge committed to avoid the resources and developed avoidance measures at each location. A tribal monitoring includes qualified monitors from Tribal communities that wish to participate, providing the opportunity similar to the tribal survey and interview efforts.

More than 20 federal, state and local permits and approvals were needed prior to construction of this most studied pipeline project in Minnesota history. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) granted Enbridge a Certificate of Need and a Route Permit for the Line 3 Replacement Project. In addition, these environmental permits relate to how the pipeline will be constructed; and will ensure the protection of cultural resources, water, land and wildlife during construction:

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
    • Section 404/10 individual permit
    • Section 408 authorization
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    • Bald eagle nest disturbance permit
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs
    • Right-of-way grant
  • Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
    • Tribal permits and authorizations
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
    • License to cross public waters
    • Work in public waters permit
    • License to cross public lands
    • Long-term lease for access roads to valves
    • Short-term leases for both haul and access roads
    • Endangered species permit
    • Gully 30 calcareous fen management plan authorization
    • Individual groundwater appropriation permit
    • Individual surface water appropriation permits, including Gully 30 calcareous fen
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
    • Section 401 water quality certification and anti-degradation assessment
    • Clearbrook Terminal air quality permit
    • National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) industry hydrostatic discharge permit
    • NPDES construction stormwater general permit
    • NPDES general construction stormwater coverage for equipment yards
  • Minnesota Department of Transportation
    • Road crossing permit
    • Temporary access permit
  • Watershed Districts
    • Red Lake Watershed permit
    • Two Rivers Watershed permit
    • Middle-Snake Watershed permit

Some of these permits are specifically about water protection. Pipelines, by nature, are like other transportation infrastructure. Concerns about water are limited to dewatering the project site and storm water management. Unlike mines, paper plants or other industrial applications, water is not part of an ongoing process that requires treatment and monitoring.

During construction, we will work temporarily in wetlands and water bodies, pump water out of ditches, and use water to pressure test the new pipeline. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency makes sure that potential impacts are defined and managed. We will also be increasing our operations at Clearbrook Terminal, which impacts our air permit.