A draft of Enbridge Line 3's water permit will be released later this month and will be made available for public comment throughout March, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency announced on Wednesday.
The updated timeline comes two days after the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Monday once again approved a certificate of need, route permit and environmental review for Line 3.
In a news release, the MPCA said it will release the draft of its 401 certification on Feb. 26, and a 30-day public comment period will begin March 2. It will also hold public comment meetings at the Sanford Center in Bemidji on March 17 and the Timberlake Lodge in Grand Rapids on March 18. Additional meeting details will be released later, the MPCA said.
The 401 certification is awarded by a state’s regulators if the project’s impact on water falls within the state’s standards, as federal agencies cannot issue a federal permit or license without a state approving the 401 certification.
The controversial pipeline is set to replace the 50-year-old Line 3 and carry 760,000 barrels of oil (31.92 million gallons) per day from Alberta to the Enbridge terminal in Superior.
In September, the MPCA issued a “denial without prejudice” of Line 3's 401 certification because it needed more information on the impacts of a potential oil spill within the Lake Superior watershed.
The denial came after the Minnesota Court of Appeals in June ruled the environmental impact statement of the proposed pipeline project was "inadequate" because it did not consider the effects of an oil spill in Lake Superior’s watershed. Other aspects of the plan had been disputed but the court ruled that they could stand. The PUC on Monday accepted an updated environmental review as "adequate" in a 3-1 vote.
Enbridge reapplied for the permit on Nov. 15. The MPCA has one year from that date to approve or deny the permit.
Enbridge must earn a number of state and federal permits before it can start construction. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is accepting comments on Line 3's wetlands permits.