Relevant Statutes and Rules: Minn. Stat. §216G/Minn. Rules Chapter 7852
Permitting Timeline: 9 months. The timeline can be extended for good cause or with agreement of the applicant.
The PUC Role: The Commission reviews, helps build the record, and the Commissioners will make the final decision about issuing a pipeline route permit.
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
Department of Commerce – Energy Environmental Review & Analysis
Office of Administrative Hearings – Administrative Law Judge
For pipeline projects that are anticipated to have significant environmental impacts the applicant must identify its preferred route and at least one alternative. Once the Commission finds an application to be substantially complete to begin the review process Commission and Department of Commerce Energy Environmental Review and Analysis (EERA) staff hold public information meetings in each county the project traverses to receive public comments on the proposed pipeline route and to accept additional route alternative proposals from the public. The Commission determines which alternative routes will be considered and requests the EERA to perform the environmental review on the applicant’s proposed route and the alternative routes that have been identified.
The Commission will hold at least one public hearing and will open a public comment period to provide the public an opportunity to comment on the permit application, and the entire record that has been developed on the proposed project. The public hearing is presided over by an administrative law judge (ALJ) from the Office of Administrative Hearings. Members of the public have an opportunity to make an oral presentation, present evidence, and ask questions of the applicant, official parties, and Agency staff.
After the evidentiary hearings are completed, the ALJ will write a report entitled Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Recommendation. The Report of the ALJ is a comprehensive review of the process and the information contained in the record. After the report is efiled into the docket, the Commission reviews the entire record, the Commission will hold a public agenda meeting on the matter and make a determination on whether to issue a permit. If a permit is issued, it will identify terms and conditions on how the project will be constructed and operated. Applicants cannot begin to construct the project until the pre-construction terms and conditions contained in the permit are met.