Environmental Assessments

Environmental assessment worksheet

An Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) is a document of 20 questions to layout facts on whether a project will have significant environmental impacts. The worksheet is used to determine if an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is necessary.

The EAW is not meant to approve or deny a project, but instead act as a source of information to guide other approvals and permitting decisions.

The worksheet:

  • Describes the proposed project
  • Provides permit information
  • Informs the public about the project
  • Helps identify ways to protect the environment

When is a environmental review required

It's required under certain circumstances. Some projects of a specific size and nature are exempt from the environmental review process. 

Minnesota Rules 4410.4600

Mandatory reviews

Projects that meet or exceed the thresholds described state statute are required to complete an EAW.

When determining if a project meets a mandatory environmental review category threshold, it is important to keep in mind any connected actions, phased actions, or project expansions within the last three years that cumulatively may trigger mandatory environmental review. 

Mandatory EAW see Minnesota Rules 4410.4300

Mandatory EIS see Minnesota Rules 4410.4400

Discretionary environmental reviews

Projects that are not exempt nor require a mandatory environmental review can still go through the EAW process. 

The responsible government unit (City Council) may order a discretionary environmental review:

  1. If it determines that the project may have the potential for significant environmental effects.
  2. In response to a citizen petition.
  3. If the project proposer wishes to determine if the project has the potential for significant environmental impacts.

Steps in the process for environment assessment worksheet

Who completes the worksheet

The EAW is completed by the responsible governmental unit based on data submitted by the project proposer. For most projects in Northfield, that will be the City Council.

Review and public comment

The worksheet is distributed to government agencies and published in the EQB Monitor. The process includes a 30-day comment period for the public and the option for the City to host a public meeting to gather additional comments. 


Once the environment assessment worksheet is completed, the City Council has 30 days to decide if the project has the potential for significant environmental effects, which requires an Environmental Impact Statement, or doesn't and the project can move forward.

The rules for making the decision are outlined in state statute.

Minnesota Rules 4410.1700, Subpart 1

More information

Minnesota Environmental Quality Board