Enbridge receives MPCA, DNR permits for Line 3

If approved, the Line 3 pipeline will cross the Mississippi River just north of Palisade. The horizontal clearing is the existing power line right of way, which is part of Enbridge’s preferred route.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources made the decision on Nov. 12 to grant the remaining eight of 10 required DNR permits, licenses and approvals for the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project.

The DNR made decisions granting two prior approvals on Oct. 19.

Enbridge is proposing to construct a new oil pipeline in Minnesota, replacing its existing Line 3. Line 3 is one of six Enbridge oil pipelines that cross Minnesota in what Enbridge calls its mainline system.

Late in October, DNR issued permits/approvals for the Gully 30 Fen Calcareous Fen Management Plan and the Gully 30 Fen Water Appropriation Permit.

After considering applicable state laws, all input received and the administrative record, Minnesota  DNR issued the following additional permits/licenses:

• Work in Public Waters Permit for construction of a new Willow River Bridge in T51N, R24W, Section  31 in Aitkin County.

• Work in Public Waters Permit for Public Water Wetlands on Private Land; permission to work in specific named protected wetlands.

• Water Appropriation Permit for Dust Suppression allows withdrawal of  up to 13.8 million gallons of  water per year for one year, for dust control, from rivers, streams and ditches along the route.

• Water Appropriation Permit for Trench and Construction Dewatering; this one-year permit allows the withdrawal of up to 510.5 million  gallons  of  groundwater per year for construction dewatering.

• Water Appropriation Permit for Hydrostatic Testing and Horizontal Directional Drilling; a one-year permit to take 113.1 million gallons of surface and ground water for hydrostatic testing of pipelines and  tanks using wells and stationary pumps.

• Utility Crossing License for State Land. A 50-year license fee paid to the state in the amount of $1,027,307.

• Utility Crossing License for Public Water; a 50-year license granted by the state of Minnesota for the amount of $390,485.

• Threatened and Endangered Species Taking Permit; Enbridge will compensate the state in the amount $2,532,860 for taking a number of threatened and endangered species from specific sites along the proposed route.

Details about the projects covered by each of the permits are on the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/.


Honor the Earth Executive Director Winona LaDuke responded to the news by saying, “Water is life. Ignoring evidence about the serious threat Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline would pose to Minnesota’s clean water, the MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop approved a water-crossing permit, allowing the pipeline to be constructed through hundreds of Minnesota waterways. The project still faces multiple legal challenges, including an appeal by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which maintains that the pipeline is illegal and unnecessary.”

Minnesota House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, (R) of Crown, responded to the news that the DNR and MPCA have granted key permits for the Line 3 replacement pipeline.

“These permits bring us one step closer to finally replacing the aging Line 3 pipeline after years of frivolous lawsuits and delays, Daudt said. “We’re thrilled for the northern Minnesota communities and families who will see strong paychecks and robust investment once construction finally begins.”


Enbridge communications specialist Juli Kellner put the issuance of permits into the project’s context.

“(The) decision from MPCA, including the project’s 401 Water Quality Certification, clears the way for a determination from the US Army Corps of Engineers regarding federal permits. The Line 3 project has been designed to minimize impacts to sensitive streams and wetlands. Enbridge pipelines have coexisted with some of the nation’s most productive wild rice waters for 70 years,”  she said. “As the administrative law judge confirmed, Enbridge and the MPCA identified the best and most prudent crossing method for each stream, identified and counted the full acreage of wetlands, and correctly determined best protections for wetlands and waterbodies.

“This means that the proposed project meets the applicable State of Minnesota environmental regulatory requirements to receive these approvals,” added Kellner.


Andy Pearson, MN350’s Midwest Tar Sands Coordinator said in response to the approvals, “Make no mistake. This decision is a sharp escalation against water protectors and climate science.”

Pearson criticized the decision by the PCA and Walz as wildly premature.

“Line 3 is facing multiple court challenges by Native nations, grassroots groups, and the Minnesota Department of Commerce,” he said. “This decision means that Enbridge may launch construction while the overall need and legality of the pipeline are being fought in court, including by a state agency. There is a good chance that courts will find the pipeline was approved illegally. It’s just common sense, then, to demand that the state immediately halt Enbridge’s progress toward construction while those important legal challenges play out.”


“As we did prior to making our Oct. 19 decisions, the DNR conducted a thorough review of these applications, and has determined that these final eight approvals, as conditioned, meet the requirements of state statutes and rules,” said DNR Deputy Commissioner Barb Naramore. “We carefully considered all comments and other input, as reflected in our decision documents.”


Enbridge must obtain additional regulatory approvals from other state, tribal and federal agencies prior to construction.

Additional details about the proposed project will be available on the DNR website.

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