Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Minnesota state highway projects

Minnesota state highway projects

Environmental regulations

Each project may or may not have impacts to resources or go through the following regulatory processes. Contact the project manager with any questions about these environmental regulations.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Minnesota Environmental Policy Act (MEPA)

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) established a national environmental policy and provides a framework for environmental planning and decision making by Federal agencies. NEPA directs Federal agencies, when planning projects or issuing permits, to conduct environmental reviews to consider the potential impacts on the environment by their proposed actions. The federal regulations for implementing NEPA are found in 40 CFR §§ 1500–1508 and FHWA’s implementing regulations are found in 23 CFR §771.

The Minnesota Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) established the Environmental Review program for Minnesota state agencies to follow. Minnesota Rules chapter (MR) 4410 promulgate the rules for the Environmental Review program. These rules implement the formal process for investigating public and private projects that have the potential to significantly affect the environment.

For more information on the NEPA and MEPA processes visit the Environmental Review website.

Other federal requirements

In addition to NEPA and MEPA, all proposed projects must be reviewed under the following federal requirements:

This proposed project is being reviewed under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) by the MnDOT’s Cultural Resources Unit. Section 106 requires federal agencies or agencies using federal funding to assess the effects that federally funded projects have on historic properties. Section 106 Review includes:

  • Delineation of a Project’s Area of Potential Effects (APE)
  • Public outreach and engagement
  • Consultation with consulting parties
  • Identifying historic properties that are listed in or eligible for the National Register within the project APE
  • Assessment of effects

For more information on the Section 106 process visit the Cultural Resources website and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation website.

Section 4(f) is a federal law intended to prevent conversion of certain parks, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, recreation areas, or historic properties to transportation use. MnDOT staff work to avoid, minimize, and mitigate a “use” under Section 4(f) through consultation, project development, and consideration of alternative project plans. Section 4(f) can be a complex topic; for more information see Section 4(f) Process and other guidance.

The Clean Water Act of 1972 created the basic structure for protecting waters of the United States. Within the Action Section 404 regulates discharge of dredge or fill materials into waters of the United States, including wetlands. When projects fill in waters, contain waters (such as a dam or levee), or develop within waterways a special permit is required. MnDOT Environmental Review staff work with project proposers to avoid or minimize impacts to wetlands, streams, or other aquatic resources. For more information on Section 404 see the Environmental Protection Agency website or the Environmental Review webpage.

Section 6(f) or the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LAWCON) Act helps preserve, develop, and provide accessibility to outdoor recreation resources. When land is acquired or developed with LAWCON funds it cannot be converted to any use other than recreational unless the land is replaced at a fair market value or reasonably equivalent use. Find more information on Section 6(f) and LAWCON.

The federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, protects certain listed species from harm. Section 7 requires MnDOT to consult with key federal agencies when projects are federally funded, permitted or authorized. Find more information on Section 7 reviews.

The Clean Air Act protects the health and welfare of citizens by maintaining air quality standards. MnDOT project managers comply with regulations through environmental review processes, as required. More information on the Clean Air Act and how MnDOT incorporates standards into practice can be found on the Air Quality website.