(Washington, D.C.) Environmental Defense Fund filed suit yesterday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit challenging a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to approve the Spire STL pipeline.
In carrying out its statutory responsibilities under the Natural Gas Act, FERC must determine whether a pipeline is genuinely needed. In the case of Spire STL, FERC concluded that there was need based on information presented by the developer – a contract between Spire STL and an affiliated company, Spire Missouri – without rigorous investigation of need and without reasoned consideration of information presented by other parties. EDF believes FERC should have conducted a rigorous review to assess actual market need.
“FERC unlawfully approved the Spire STL pipeline without a sound determination that the project is in fact needed,” said EDF attorney Erin Murphy. “FERC’s problematic determination is resulting in harmful impacts on land, water and communities.”
The Spire STL project is a 65-mile pipeline running through southwest Illinois and the St. Louis, Missouri area. FERC issued its initial approval for the project in August 2018. EDF sought rehearing of that decision, which FERC denied. FERC has allowed Spire STL to undertake construction and operations notwithstanding serious legal concerns. People living in the region, including EDF members, are experiencing direct harm to their land that is in the pathway of the pipeline, including deforestation and loss of cropland.
More rigorous oversight by FERC of affiliate contracts, such as the affiliate contract at issue in this case, could prevent the imposition of unnecessary costs on utility customers; and could prevent locking in long-term greenhouse gas pollution and locking out clean energy alternatives over the 50-year life of new pipelines.
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