Clean Water Action: MPCA's Line 3 Denial Shows the Importance of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act

Friday, September 27, 2019

Minneapolis -- Today the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency denied the Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality permit for Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline. The MPCA stated that it needed more information to determine if the 340-mile long pipeline would be detrimental to water quality in the state, as a result of possible oil spills. Section 401 of the Clean Water Act is a critical tool states and tribes use to protect local waters. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed weakening this provision, which would make it harder for Minnesota and other states to safeguard water quality from projects like Line 3. EPA is taking comments on the proposal until October 21.

Deanna White, Clean Water Action’s Minnesota State Director released the following statement:

“This is a good decision -- Line 3 would have put Minnesota’s waters at risk and the last thing we need right now is new fossil fuel infrastructure. More importantly this shows how vital it is for states and tribes to have a say in the decision making process for projects that could harm local water quality, a power the Trump administration is recklessly trying to take away. Trump’s EPA recently proposed revisions to Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. This irresponsible proposal would unreasonably  limit the time for states and tribes to review proposals. It would narrow the scope of impacts the state could review. Most galling, it would take power away from the states, allowing federal agencies to overrule a state decision.

Minnesotans can breathe a little easier today knowing that MPCA stood up for our communities and our water by rejecting this dangerous pipeline. But if EPA finalizes its proposal, it could be much harder for state regulators to protect our water from future projects, or if Enbridge reapplies. And other states should take heed that their ability to protect their own communities is in jeopardy. We need to speak out forcefully and demand that EPA drop its reckless proposal to put polluters needs first.“

For more information on EPA's proposal, visit this page. Members of the public can submit a comment on this rollback here.


Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. We will protect clean water in the face of attacks from a polluter friendly Administration.


Michael Kelly