An effort to get the nation’s highest court to intervene on behalf of the Spire STL Pipeline in a legal battle over alleged flaws in the natural gas conduit’s FERC certificate has fallen short.
Earlier this month, Spire Missouri Inc. asked the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of a lower court ruling that vacated Spire STL’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission certificate and put its operation status in limbo. Late last week, the high court denied Spire’s application for a stay.
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) last year brought a court challenge against FERC’s Spire STL decision, which eventually led to a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (DC) Circuit ruling vacating the 65-mile, 400,000 Dth/d Midwest pipeline’s 2018 certificate.
Siding with the EDF, the appeals court determined that FERC had failed to adequately examine the market need for Spire STL by improperly relying on a precedent agreement with an affiliated entity.
Last month, FERC issued a temporary certificate of public convenience and necessity to Spire STL to keep the pipeline in operation as it evaluates next steps following the DC Circuit ruling.
Spire STL President Scott Smith at the time called FERC’s decision to issue the temporary approval “a good first step” in addressing what could be an “emergency situation” for customers in the St. Louis region who rely on the pipeline.
“This temporary certificate provides additional time to meaningfully engage with all stakeholders on the need for STL Pipeline without the threat of customers in Eastern Missouri losing the energy they rely on,” Smith said. “Having said that, this authorization does not get us through what can be some of winter’s coldest months.”
The EDF, for its part, commended the Supreme Court for not getting involved, arguing that it is within FERC’s jurisdiction to ensure reliability as it revisits the flaws identified by the DC Circuit.
“The DC Circuit decision was thorough and well-reasoned, and it is important that the commission now reform its review procedures to put people first…Spire currently has a temporary certificate to operate, and FERC is poised to issue another temporary certificate to ensure reliability,” EDF senior director and lead counsel Natalie Karas said. “FERC can determine the appropriate conditions for a temporary certificate and ensure continuity of service for the people of St. Louis.”
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