Court rejects Spire’s offer to rehear $ 285 million in pipeline permits


  • Court has already questioned FERC’s justification for market need
  • Pipeline chairman says residents of St Louis will suffer from heating shortages without the pipeline

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(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Tuesday dismissed a petition by U.S. natural gas company Spire Inc to reconsider a June ruling forcing the company to shut down its already operating STL pipeline in Missouri.

Two panels of U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit have dismissed intervener Spire’s motion for a panel or rehearing of the June 22 decision that quashed clearances for the Spire STL pipeline of approximately $ 285 million issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. (FERC) in 2018.

Spire STL Pipeline President Scott Smith said in a statement, “Decommissioning the STL Pipeline will have significant implications for the health and safety, property and economic prosperity of the St. Louis area.”

Spire asked FERC in July for emergency clearance to keep the line in service to prevent gas outages for up to 400,000 St. Louis residents this winter. That request is under review, said Speyer spokesperson Jason Merrill. Lawyers for Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher represent the company.

“The Commission continues to review the DC Circuit vacancy and is reviewing today’s court order,” said FERC spokeswoman Mary O’Driscoll.

Natalie Karas, in-house counsel for the plaintiff, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), said in a statement: “The court rightly rejected the request to review its original decision.”

“FERC has the authority and the fact-finding tools to craft a remedy that meets the need for reliable service while protecting other public interests,” she added.

In the June decision, a unanimous DC Circuit panel rejected a critical licensing order for the 65-mile Spire STL pipeline. The ruling said FERC took an “ostrich-like approach” when it saw a market need for the line despite hiring only one gas supplier, a subsidiary of the operator. of the line, to use it.

St. Louis-based Spire asked the court in August to rehear the case, arguing that under DC Circuit’s precedent he should have returned the FERC certificate without overturning it. Returning the certificate to FERC would have enabled FERC to “correct any error in reasoning,” the company argued.

On Tuesday, the same panel of judges that delivered the June ruling rejected Speyer’s request for a new hearing. Judges on the panel are US Circuit Senior Judge Harry Edwards as well as US Circuit Judges David Tatel and Patricia Millett.

Speyer’s request for a new full-court hearing was also dismissed.

FERC cleared the interstate gas pipeline in 2018. Construction began in 2019 after the commission delayed consideration of EDF’s challenge to the certification and ultimately denied it.

Analysts at ClearView Energy Partners LLC said in a note Tuesday that “we continue to believe that FERC is likely to allow Spire STL to continue to operate on a temporary / emergency basis, but potentially neither at its current full capacity. nor at its prices this winter (and beyond). “

The line, designed to deliver up to 0.4 billion cubic feet of gas per day, began operating in November 2019.

The case is Environmental Defense Fund v. FERC, US Circuit Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, No. 20-1016.

For the Environmental Defense Fund: Natalie Karas with the Environmental Defense Fund and Jason Gray of Duncan & Allen.

For FERC: Anand Viswanathan with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

For the intervener for the respondent Spire Missouri Inc: Christopher Barr of Post & Schell

For the interveners of the respondent Spire STL Pipeline, LLC: Daniel Archuleta of Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders and Theodore Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Read more:

FERC rationale for pipeline certification weak, says DC Circuit

Spire may have more time to operate the Missouri STL natgas pipeline – analysts

Spire calls for US support for Missouri pipeline to avoid blackouts

Sebastien malo

Sébastien Malo reporters on environmental, climate and energy litigation. Contact him at [email protected]

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