Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project

Enbridge is currently constructing a crude oil pipeline across Minnesota. The project will replace and expand the capacity of the existing Line 3 pipeline. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission issued a Certificate of Need and Route Permit to Enbridge for construction of the Line 3 Pipeline Replacement.

A number of permits, licenses and other approvals from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources were required for the project. See DNR Decisions section below for further details on these permits. The project also received additional approvals from other agencies and entities, including the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

map of minnesota with line across northern half showing route of pipeline
Click to view route map

Recent Developments

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Initiates Comprehensive Enforcement Resolution Related to Line 3 Replacement Construction

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is taking additional actions related to an unauthorized groundwater appropriation by Enbridge during the construction of the Line 3 replacement project near the company’s Clearbrook Terminal. Enbridge will comply with DNR’s previous enforcement actions and work with the DNR on a comprehensive enforcement resolution to this and any other uncontrolled groundwater flows.

The DNR’s initial enforcement actions issued on September 16, 2021 required Enbridge to implement a restoration plan to stop the unauthorized groundwater flow near the Clearbrook Terminal within 30 days. While Enbridge has made progress toward stopping the flow, the company notified the DNR that this work won’t be complete by the DNR’s deadline.

The comprehensive enforcement resolution will hold Enbridge accountable for adherence to all terms of DNR’s previous restoration order and Administrative Penalty Order (APO), as well as require compensation for the additional loss of groundwater during the increased time it takes to complete the work to stop the groundwater flow.

As a condition of initiating this new comprehensive enforcement resolution, Enbridge has agreed to the following terms.

  • Enbridge will provide $3.32 million in penalty and mitigation funds due under the September enforcement action. This includes payment of:
    • $550,000 in initial mitigation and monitoring funds due under the restoration order (received October 14),
    • $20,000 nonforgivable penalty due under the APO, the maximum allowed under state law (received October 14), and
    • $2.75 million in escrow for any necessary fen restoration and mitigation by November 1.
  • Enbridge has also paid an additional $40,000 as compensation to the state for the last 30 days of groundwater resources lost due to uncontrolled flow and agreed to pay for additional future losses.
  • Enbridge will be held accountable for any additional violations under DNR’s jurisdiction. This includes any violations identified through the independent inspection required in the September restoration order.
  • Enbridge will forgo appeal of the September 16 restoration order and APO and meet all corrective action requirements.

As noted above, the comprehensive enforcement resolution will address any other uncontrolled groundwater flows. The DNR is currently investigating two additional sites of uncontrolled flow due to breaches of the confining layers of artesian aquifers. While DNR cannot comment further on these sites due to the ongoing investigation, the comprehensive nature of the enforcement resolution ensures that Enbridge will be held accountable for the loss of groundwater and any other environmental damages under DNR’s jurisdiction that result from these breaches.

DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen stated: “The comprehensive enforcement resolution builds on our previous enforcement actions and ensures Enbridge is held fully accountable for damages to Minnesota’s valued natural resources and violations of state law.”

Enbridge Project and Higgins Eye Pearlymussel

DNR Statement Regarding Enbridge project and Higgins eye pearlymussel (8/7/21)

Enbridge Construction and Water Appropriation Suspensions

Update regarding Enbridge construction and water suspensions (7/23/2021)

Some Line 3 surface water appropriations have been suspended

Enbridge has two separate water appropriation permits that authorize water use from surface water. One permit is for dust control (#2018-3421) and the other is for hydrostatic testing and horizontal directional drilling (#2018-3690). These appropriations are subject to suspension or modification during low streamflow periods. The permits authorize water use from a variety of sources across the state. As of August 31, 2021, sources located within the Crow Wing River, St. Louis River, Pine River, Mississippi River-Brainerd, Mississippi River-Grand Rapids, Clearwater River, Red Lake River and Lost River watersheds have been suspended due to low streamflow conditions. Enbridge is still authorized to appropriate water from some other surface water sources that are not located within watersheds experiencing low streamflow and from sources that do not affect surface water.

Dust control (#2018-3421) water sources that have been suspended:

  • Installation #12 Clearwater River
  • Installation #13 State Ditch 61
  • Installation #14 Unnamed Ditch
  • Installation #15 Lost River
  • Installation #16 Silver Creek
  • Installation #17 Clearwater River
  • Installation #18 Walker Brook
  • Lost River, contingency source
  • Pine Lake, contingency source
  • Installation #11 Red Lake River
  • Installation #22 Island Lake
  • Installation #24 Hay Creek
  • Installation #26 Shell River
  • Installation #18 Shell River
  • Installation #31 Big Swamp Creek
  • Installation #46 Stoney Brook
  • Installation #47 Big Lake
  • Installation #33 Pine River
  • Installation #34 Louise Lake/Blind Creek
  • Installation #35 Unnamed Creek (CA_118-200aWB)
  • Installation #37 Moose River
  • Installation #38 Moose River @ CR-29
  • Installation #39 Willow River
  • Installation #40 Mississippi
  • Installation #41 Unnamed Stream (M-120-005-001-005)
  • Installation #42 West Savanna River

Hydrostatic testing and horizontal directional drilling (#2018-3690) water sources that have been suspended:

  • Installation #9 Clearwater River
  • Installation #10 Clearwater River
  • Installation #11 Clearwater River
  • Installation #12 Clearwater River
  • Installation #7 Red Lake River
  • Installation #8 Red Lake River
  • Installation #40 Red Lake River
  • Installation #16 Shell River
  • Installation #17 Shell River
  • Installation #20 Shell River
  • Installation #32 (Well #232423)
  • Installation #33 (Well #707830)
  • Installation #25 East Savanah River
  • Installation #27 St. Louis River
  • Chub Lake, contingency source
  • Installation #21 Pine River
  • Installation #36 Pine River
  • Installation #37 Daggett Brook
  • Clear (Eagle)Lake, contingency source
  • Lake George, contingency source
  • Installation #22 Willow River
  • Installation #23 Mississippi River
  • Installation #24 Mississippi River

 

 

Click to enlarge

Map of watersheds where appropriations have been suspended

Map of watersheds where appropriations have been suspended (10/14/2021)

Trench and Construction Dewatering Permit Amendment

On June 4, 2021, the DNR amended Enbridge’s Trench and Construction Dewatering Permit (#2018-3420) to increase the authorized volume of dewatering from 510.5 million gallons to 4,982.7 million gallons. Enbridge requested this amendment after winter and spring construction required significantly more dewatering than was anticipated.

By its nature, trench dewatering is only needed when groundwater seeps into a construction trench. The trench dewatering itself has very little impact in terms of affecting water resources in the construction area. Dewatering occurs at any single location for only a few days. The shallow water table in that area is temporarily lowered during dewatering operations. This water is then infiltrated back into the ground in close proximity to where it was removed, to help mitigate the temporary impact. Temporary dewatering of trenches for the Line 3 project is not expected to have any significant impact on nearby wetlands or other surface waters.

DNR Decisions

These decisions mean that the proposed project meets the applicable State of Minnesota environmental regulatory requirements to receive these approvals.

*Signed versions of these permits are available upon request.

Decision Documents

November 12, 2020: The DNR has made decisions granting an additional eight of ten required DNR permits, licenses and approvals for the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project. After careful consideration of applicable state laws, all input received and the administrative record, the DNR has issued the following eight permits/approvals:

Utility Crossing License for Public LandUtility Crossing License for Public WaterThreatened and Endangered Species Taking PermitWork in Public Waters for Willow River Bridge Permit*Work in Public Waters for Public Water Wetlands on Private Land PermitWater Appropriation for Dust Suppression Permit*

October 19, 2020: The DNR has made decisions granting two of ten required DNR permits, licenses and approvals for the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project. After careful consideration of applicable state laws, all input received and the administrative record, the DNR has issued the following two permits/approvals:

Notice of Gully 30 Calcareous Fen Management Plan PermitGully 30 Fen Water Appropriation PermitWater Appropriation for Hydrostatic Testing and Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) Permit*

On June 4, 2021 the DNR issued an amended water appropriation permit to Enbridge for trench and construction dewatering. The amendment was issued in response to an Enbridge request due to encountering greater amounts of groundwater during construction than was anticipated. The original October 19, 2020 permit and October 19, 2020 decision may be accessed. The amended permit and decision document are below.

Amended Water Appropriation for Trench and Construction Dewatering Permit.

Enbridge Applications

Enbridge has submitted applications for the DNR permits and licenses. The DNR has reviewed the applications for completeness and compliance with Minnesota statutes and rules.

Final Applications

Utility Crossing Licenses

Prior to crossing state land or public waters with a utility infrastructure project, companies must obtain a utility crossing license from the DNR. Utility licenses are for a term of 25 or 50 years, and may be renewed when they expire.

Utility Crossing License for Public Land

Enbridge needs a Utility Crossing License for construction and operation of the pipeline on state lands. The proposed pipeline route will cross state forests, school trust land, state trails, and an aquatic management area.

Status: Approved

Utility Crossing License for Public Water

Enbridge needs a Utility Crossing License for construction and operation of the pipeline on public waters. The proposed pipeline route would cross 68 lakes and rivers designated as public waters.

Status: Approved


Public Waters Work Permits

Proposed projects that might affect the course, current, or cross-section of lakes, wetlands and streams identified on the Public Waters Inventory may require a public waters work permit.

Public Water Wetlands on Private Land

Enbridge does not need public waters work permits for areas that are subject to the Utility Crossing License for public waters. A public waters work permit is needed for areas where the pipeline proposes to cross a public water wetland on non-state land.

Status: Approved

Willow River Bridge

Enbridge proposes to install a bridge over the Willow River for access to a proposed valve site. A work in public waters permit would be required for this installation.

Status: Approved.


Water Appropriation Permits

A water appropriation (use) permit is required for all users withdrawing more than 10,000 gallons of water per day or 1 million gallons per year.

The Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project would require a water appropriation permit for several types of activities. The DNR required Enbridge to apply for four separate water appropriation applications based on the type of proposed use:

Water for Hydrostatic Testing and Horizontal Directional Drilling

Water would be needed for hydrostatic testing of the newly constructed pipe and also needed as a source for horizontal directional drilling. Most of this water would come from surface waters near the proposed construction activities.

Status: Approved

Trench and Construction Dewatering

Water appropriation permits would be needed to allow Enbridge to remove water from pipeline trenches and other construction areas during project construction.

Status: Approved

Dust Control

Water would be needed for dust control during construction activities. Most of this water would come from surface waters near the proposed construction activities.

Status: Approved

Construction Near Gully 30 (calcareous fen)

A specific water appropriation would be needed for construction activities near the Gully 30 calcareous fen.

Status: Approved


Threatened and Endangered Species Takings Permit

A permit is required for activities that impact endangered or threatened plants or animals.

The Line 3 Replacement Pipeline Project would need a permit for the take of endangered and threatened plant species that cannot be avoided along the route.

Status: Approved


Calcareous Fen Management Plan

Calcareous fens may not be filled, drained or otherwise degraded, wholly or partially, by any activity, unless the commissioner of natural resources expressly allows such impact under an approved management plan.

The Line 3 Pipeline Replacement project proposes construction through a calcareous fen (Gully 30) located in Polk County.

Status: Approved (An amended Notice of Decision was issued on November 10, 2020. This amendment corrected typographical errors in the previous decision. No substantive changes have been made.)

The DNR also required Enbridge to apply for a separate water appropriation permit for construction dewatering activities near the Gully 30 Fen because of the fen's sensitivity to disturbance.


DNR Access Leases

Enbridge is required to secure short- and long-term leases for construction and operation of the Line 3 Replacement Pipeline on DNR-administered land. These leases would accommodate needs such as temporary workspaces on DNR-administered land that are outside of the Utility Crossing License right-of-way.

The Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project would need state land leases for access roads and temporary workspaces on DNR-administered land that are outside of the Utility Crossing License right-of-way.

Status: Approved

More Information

Online informational webinars

The DNR held three informational webinars focused on the project, the DNR's decision-making process and how people can comment on the company's applications. Each webinar was approximately 90 minutes and included a 30-minute question and answer period.

Webinar 1 - Project overview and DNR's role in permitting, Monday, April 29, 2019.

Webinar 2 - Project application information, Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

Webinar 3 - Project application information, Monday, May 6, 2019.

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