Mandatory Environmental Review Categories Legislative Assessment Report

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The Minnesota Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) created a formal process for investigating public or private projects that have the potential to significantly impact the environment. Minnesota Rules chapter 4410 (MR 4410) implement the objectives of MEPA by requiring categories of these types of projects to undergo a systematic environmental review (ER) process that works in conjunction with permits and other approvals.

These categories of project types are referred to as mandatory Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) categories and mandatory Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) categories. Each mandatory EAW and EIS category has an applicable threshold for determining when ER is required and assigns a responsible governmental unit (RGU) to prepare and approve the review documents. Information provided through the Minnesota environmental review process is intended to ensure that the potential environmental effects of a proposed project will be assessed and disclosed, prior to the approval of any Minnesota governmental action.

The first Mandatory Categories Legislative Assessment Report (2013 MC Report) was required by a 2012 legislative directive (Laws of Minnesota for 2012, Chapter 150, Article 2, Section 3). The 2013 MC Report evaluated each of the mandatory EAW and EIS categories, and developed recommendations for whether the mandatory category should be modified, eliminated, or unchanged based on its intended outcomes and relationship to existing permits or other federal, state, or local laws or ordinances. Recommendations in the 2013 MC Report were evaluated, along with recommendations identified by the public during rulemaking comment periods in 2015 and 2016, and where appropriate, are included in the 2018 proposed rulemaking under Revisor's ID Number R-04157: https://www.eqb.state.mn.us/content/eqb-mandatory-categories-rulemaking.

Executive Summary

In 2017, the legislative directive was amended and included in Minnesota Statute Chapter 116D.04 Subd. 5b:

By December 1, 2018, and every three years thereafter, the Environmental Quality Board, Pollution Control Agency, Department of Natural Resources, and Department of Transportation, after consultation with political subdivisions, shall submit to the governor and the chairs of the house of representatives and senate committees having jurisdiction over environment and natural resources a list of mandatory environmental assessment worksheet and mandatory environmental impact statement categories for which the agency or a political subdivision is designated as the responsible government unit, and for each worksheet or statement category, a document including:

  1. intended historical purposes of the category;
  2. whether projects that fall within the category are also subject to local, state, or federal permits; and
  3. an analysis of and recommendations for whether the mandatory category should be modified, eliminated, or unchanged based on its intended outcomes and relationship to existing permits or other federal, state, or local laws or ordinances.”

This report was prepared in compliance with requirements in Minnesota Statute Chapter 116D.04 Subd. 5b, and contains analyses for each of the mandatory EAW categories (MR 4410.4300) and the mandatory EIS categories (MR 4410.4400). The analyses include the intended historical purposes of the category; whether projects that fall within the category are also subject to local, state, or federal permits; and recommendations for whether the mandatory category should be modified, eliminated, or unchanged based on its intended outcomes and relationship to existing permits or other federal, state, or local laws or ordinances. An updated summary of recommendations for each mandatory category can be found on pages 8-14 of this report. The following appendices provide a more detailed analysis of each mandatory EAW and EIS category.

 

2013 Mandatory Categories Report

2018 Mandatory Categories Report