A lower court’s decision to toss the federal government’s approval of the already-built Spire STL Pipeline in Missouri won’t face U.S. Supreme Court review, the high court decided Monday.
Spire STL Pipeline LLC and Spire Missouri Inc. wanted the justices to intervene after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s original certificate order for the project. Households and businesses in the St. Louis area risked losing gas service as a result of the agency’s delay and the D.C. Circuit’s decision, the companies told the court Dec. 3.
FERC failed to justify its decision that there was a need for the project, the appeals court said. The agency also ignored evidence of self-dealing, according to the ruling.
The agency urged the high court to skip review after it approved the pipeline’s request for a temporary certificate to keep gas flowing during the remand proceedings.
The question in Spire’s petition “has no current practical significance” to its ability to operate the pipeline, the agency told the court in March. The agency received backing from the Environmental Defense Fund, which said the D.C. Circuit’s decision wouldn’t threaten natural gas supply. The evidence instead showed that keeping FERC’s orders in place would harm the public, according to EDF.
“While we are disappointed by today’s decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Spire STL Pipeline will continue to operate under the currently effective Temporary Certificate issued by the FERC on December 3, 2021,” said Scott Smith, president of the pipeline.
“We are confident that when people have an opportunity to review the proven benefits of the STL Pipeline, they will agree that there is a critical need to keep this infrastructure fully operational to ensure continued access to reliable, affordable energy for families and businesses in the greater St. Louis region,” Smith said.
Analysts at ClearView Energy Partners LLC said Monday that they think “FERC’s proposed changes to its Certificate Policy Statement released in February appeared particularly responsive to the D.C. Circuit ruling in the Spire STL case.”
“The Supreme Court’s rejection of Spire STL’s petition would, in our view, reinforce FERC taking a strong stance,” they said.
The agency’s court-ordered review of the project is ongoing.
Post & Schell PC represented Spire Missouri Inc., which also represented itself. Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and Norton Rose Fulbright U.S. LLP represented Spire STL Pipeline LLC, which also represents itself.
The case is Spire Mo. Inc. v. Envtl. Def. Fund, U.S., No. 21-848, 12/6/21.