D.C. Circuit Court Declines to Revisit Decision Striking Down FERC’s Approval of the Spire Pipeline

Statement of Natalie Karas, Senior Director and Lead Counsel for EDF

September 7, 2021
Lauren Whittenberg, (512) 691-3437
Colin Rowan, (512) 799-6400

(Washington) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today declined Spire’s request to revisit its decision that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s orders granting Spire authority to construct and operate a 65-mile pipeline in Illinois and Missouri were fatally flawed.

Although FERC itself did not seek rehearing, Spire asked the full D.C. Circuit to rehear the June 21 decision’s finding on the appropriate remedy in the proceeding, which found that vacating the FERC orders approving the pipeline was the appropriate remedy given the seriousness of their deficiencies. Today’s ruling, from which there was no recorded dissent, denies Spire’s request for panel and en banc rehearing.

“The court has appropriately rejected the request to revisit its initial decision,” said Natalie Karas, Senior Director and Lead Counsel for EDF. “FERC has the authority and fact-finding tools to craft a remedy that fulfills the need for reliable service while safeguarding other public interests.” 

In June, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously vacated FERC’s approval of Spire’s Certificate to Operate, finding that FERC did not sufficiently analyze whether the new pipeline was needed and that FERC improperly ignored record evidence of self-dealing between the Spire affiliates. Following the court’s June decision, Spire filed an emergency application to FERC seeking to continue operating the pipeline. In response, EDF supported action from FERC to ensure reliable service to St. Louis customers, while recommending that any temporary certificate should be limited and subject to strict conditions.

More rigorous oversight by FERC of affiliate contracts, in which one arm of a company signs a contract with another, could prevent the imposition of unnecessary costs on utility customers and lock-in of greenhouse gas pollution over the 50-year life of new pipelines. EDF has asked FERC to apply more stringent review of all new infrastructure in its pending proceeding to address the way it approves new pipelines.

More background on the Spire case can be found here.

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