Thursday, December 2, 2021

High court rejects gas company’s pipeline stay request

WASHINGTON (AP) – Chief Justice John Roberts has rejected a Supreme Court adjournment request from St. Louis-based natural gas company Spire Inc. to allow it to continue operating a pipeline through Illinois and Missouri.

Roberts did not comment on Friday on his refusal to temporarily halt a lower court order affecting the operation of the Spire STL pipeline. The company could be forced to stop operating the pipeline on December 13 unless the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission extends an emergency order it gave in September.

Scott Smith, president of Spire STL Pipelines, said in a statement that the company was disappointed with the decision.

“Closing the pipeline could potentially disrupt widespread, prolonged and life-threatening natural gas service for residents and businesses in the greater St. Louis area,” Smith said. “The Spire STL Pipeline will continue to fully cooperate with FERC and other stakeholders to keep this critical infrastructure in service to ensure continued access to reliable, affordable energy for homes and businesses in the greater St. “

Smith said Spire “has the potential to return to the Supreme Court for emergency relief if the new development further threatens its ability to serve its customers.”

Environmental groups opposing the spire have said the company’s concerns have increased because FERC is likely to allow the pipeline to continue operating through the winter.

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The pipeline runs for 65 miles (105 kilometers) from Scott County, Illinois, near St. Louis, where it connects to a national network. FERC approved in 2018.

Spire calls it “important to provide reliable and vital energy access to 650,000 homes and businesses throughout the St. Louis area.” But the Environmental Defense Fund argued in a lawsuit that the pipeline damages land in its path, and that taxpayers will bill for decades to come.

In June, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that FERC “failed to adequately balance public benefit and adverse effects” in approving the pipeline. The panel also wrote that evidence shows the pipeline is “not being built to meet increasing load demand and there is no indication that the new pipeline will result in cost savings.”

The ruling vacated the pipeline’s approval, allowing FERC’s 90-day order to allow its continued operation.

Roberts handles emergency appeals to the Supreme Court in cases arising in federal courts in Washington, D.C.

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