Supreme Court, Washington.
St. Louis-based natural gas company Spire Inc. is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow it to continue operating a pipeline through Illinois and Missouri, warning that a winter shutdown could be devastating for customers in the Saint-Louis region.
In a case filed last week, Spire requested a suspension that would allow the operation of its Spire STL pipeline until the issue is resolved in court. If the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, operation of the pipeline could cease on December 13, unless the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission extends an emergency order granted in September.
The Speyer court record said closing the pipeline “in the middle of winter could result in the loss of natural gas service to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses” in the St. Louis area.
“With the winter heating season less than a month away, customers who rely on the STL pipeline need to be assured that this critical infrastructure will continue to provide a reliable and affordable energy supply,” the company said in a statement. Tuesday.
But Environmental Defense Fund senior lawyer Natalie Karas said the suspension was unnecessary as Spire already had approval until mid-December, “and the FERC is about to issue a another temporary certificate to keep the pipeline operational during the winter to ensure reliable service to St. Louis customers.
The pipeline stretches 65 miles (105 kilometers) from Scott County, Ill. To near St. Louis, where it connects to a nationwide grid. FERC obtained accreditation in 2018.
Spire called it vital in providing “reliable and critical energy access to 650,000 homes and businesses throughout the St. Louis area.” But the EDF has argued in a lawsuit that the pipeline damages land in its path and that taxpayers will foot the bill for decades to come.
In June, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that FERC “failed to adequately balance public benefits and negative impacts” in approving the pipeline. The panel also wrote that the evidence showed that the pipeline “is not built to meet increasing load demand and that there is no indication that the new pipeline will result in cost savings.”
The decision canceled approval of the pipeline, prompting FERC to order it to continue operating for 90 days.
Spire cited an intense cold spell last winter as proof of the pipeline’s value. While other regions grappled with a shortage of supply and high costs of natural gas in February, “the STL pipeline provided the Saint-Louis region with access to reliable and affordable energy, at when she needed it most, “the company said in a statement.