The Minnesota Environmental Review Program requires that environmental reviews be completed for projects which exceed certain thresholds. The nature, size, and location of a project determines if an environmental review is required. Environmental reviews are conducted by the Responsible Governmental Unit (RGU). In most cases, the City of Minneapolis is the RGU for projects located within Minneapolis. The law defines the content and scope of the review and the process and timeline for its completion.
The purpose of the environmental review is to disclose the potential environmental impacts of the project and identify ways to avoid or minimize them. Permitting agencies, including the city, rely on this information for their permitting decisions. The environmental review program has no authority of its own to require any response to the environmental effects disclosed, no matter how significant. It is left to the regulating authorities to implement the mitigative measures identified in the environmental review.
The three most common environmental reviews are the Environmental Assessment Worksheet, the Environmental Impact Statement and the Alternative Urban Areawide Review.
The Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) is a questionnaire about the project's environmental setting, the potential for environmental harm and plans to reduce the harm. If the EAW leads to the conclusion that a project may pose significant environmental risks, then an EIS must be prepared.
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a very thorough study of the potential environmental effects of the project and of reasonable alternatives to the project.
The Alternative Urban Areawide Review (AUAR) is a substitute form of review that blends the requirements of the EAW and the EIS. It merges the scope of an EAW with a level of detail that is closer to an EIS. Like an EIS, the AUAR includes alternative scenarios and a very specific mitigation plan.
For more information about the environmental review process, thresholds that trigger a mandatory environmental review or for the forms, please see the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board’s website.
Minneapolis Environmental Review Projects
- West Lake Quarter (formerly known as Calhoun Towers)
- Malcolm Yards
- Gateway Mixed Use Development
- 311 2nd St SE