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How complex is the approval process for your project?


Most construction projects require some degree of governmental approval. Even residential real estate projects as small as a single home demand a building permit and compliance with local and state building codes and ordinances. The larger the project, the greater the complexity. When projects reach the size of something like the $1 billion Viking's stadium, the complexity of the project borders on overwhelming.

Other large-scale construction projects also can require intricate and meticulous planning. One such project is the construction of a pipeline across northern Minnesota. The new Sandpiper pipeline and replacement of the Line 3 pipeline have been in the works for some time, and because of legal setbacks, may be years away from completion.


The regulatory approval project for a complex project like a pipeline that runs across the difficult terrain of northern Minnesota is staggering. The company that has proposed the two pipelines has put in 190,000 hours in preparation for site selection.

Pipelines, with the potential to rupture and leak oil into swamps, creeks, lakes and watersheds are inherently problematic. With this project, the complexity is compounded by the need for approval of the Sandpiper line first, as the new Line 3 will be placed next to the eventual Sandpiper route and the old Line 3 will be removed.

Line 3 was built in 1968 and needs to be replaced due to age, but that work cannot proceed until the route approval for the Sandpiper is completed. That approval is on hold after the Minnesota Court of Appeals found that the Public Utilities Commission made an error in its approval of the certificate of need. As part of this process, an environmental impact statement is needed and given the route, will be immensely complex.

No matter the size of your project, it is always essential to ensure that you have secured all of the necessary regulatory, zoning and environmental approvals prior to starting work, as delays caused by errors or mistakes at this point in the process can be very costly at later stages of your project.

Source:, "Enbridge pipeline projects stuck in regulatory 'quagmire'," Robb Jeffries, December 8, 2015

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