Supreme Court rebuffs request from St. Louis gas pipeline company

Supreme Court rebuffs request from St. Louis gas pipeline company
© Greg Nash

The Supreme Court on Friday denied a request by a Missouri-based gas company to block a lower court’s ruling against the firm.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who is responsible for emergency matters arising in Washington, D.C., denied the request Friday without comment, according to a spokesperson for the nation's highest court.

Spire Inc., a St. Louis-headquartered natural gas utility, operates a 65-mile pipeline that carries gas through Missouri and Illinois. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) cleared the pipeline to operate in 2018, but a federal appeals court vacated the permit in June. FERC has since granted temporary permission to operate the pipeline through Dec. 13.

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In its petition earlier this month, Spire urged the court to stay the lower court decision, writing that halting the pipeline “would create a serious risk of up to 400,000 St. Louis-area homes and businesses losing gas service for prolonged periods of time during the freezing temperatures of the upcoming winter.”

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), whose lawsuit in 2020 led to the lower-court decision, submitted its own motion in opposition Monday. Noting that the pipeline has been approved to operate in the meantime, EDF attorneys argued Spire has not demonstrated “likelihood of irreparable harm” from not granting the stay.

“Spire observes that if FERC does not issue Spire STL a temporary certificate, or else fails to act before Spire STL’s emergency certificate expires, then Spire Missouri’s captive customers are likely to confront harm in the form of disrupted gas service this winter,” the group’s lawyers wrote.

“EDF does not dispute the harm that a breakdown in gas service to Spire Missouri’s customers would entail. But Spire is ineligible for a stay because any interruption in the Spire STL pipeline’s operating authority is not merely unlikely; FERC’s actions to date show the scenario to be utterly fanciful.”