Reader's View: Don’t let EPA handcuff states on clean water

Reader's View.jpg

The MPCA’s recent denial of a water-quality permit for Enbridge’s Line 3 project was undeniably good news (“Minnesota Pollution Control Agency denies key permit for Enbridge Line 3,” Sept. 27).

The Line 3 project would put too many of our wetlands and streams — and Lake Superior — at risk of an oil spill. New fossil-fuel infrastructure is the last thing we need right now. It’s time to shift toward clean energy.

Unfortunately, this could be a short-lived victory. The MPCA denied the permit without prejudice, meaning Enbridge can reapply. And if Enbridge reapplies, the state might not have the same ability to rigorously review the project if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gets its way.

The EPA is taking comments until Oct. 21 on a proposal to make it harder for states and tribes to determine if projects like Line 3 would harm local water quality. The proposal would weaken the power of states and tribes under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. This provision allows states to do exactly what the MPCA did with Line 3: Ask questions, review proposals, and make the best decision for our water.

If the EPA gets its way, a robust and serious review of potentially harmful projects won’t be possible. The amount of time for, and scope of, the review would be limited. The federal government also would be able to overrule a state’s decision, effectively giving the federal agencies the last word and forcing states to go to court to defend their waters.


The MPCA protected our water and health by rejecting Line 3. We can’t let the EPA handcuff the state on future decisions.

Steve Schultz

Arden Hills, Minn.

What To Read Next
Get Local