(Washington, D.C. – Nov. 15, 2021) Attorneys for the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund are formally demanding that the utility Spire Missouri and its affiliate, Spire STL Pipeline, immediately halt a misleading public relations campaign, including an email from Spire Missouri to its customers falsely suggesting they would be left without natural gas heat this winter due to a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The judicial ruling applies safeguards in the Natural Gas Act to protect Spire’s customers from unnecessary costs and landowners from condemnation of property as a result of Spire’s pipeline. The ruling was in response to legal action by EDF documenting serious flaws in demonstrating the need for the pipeline, and in the review and approval of the pipeline. The U.S. Supreme Court denied Spire’s request to stay or halt the D.C. Circuit’s ruling on October 15th, 2021.
"Spire has caused needless fear on the part of its customers. In fact, as the company is fully aware, EDF has supported uninterrupted operation of the pipeline through the winter. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has taken immediate action to extend service through December 13th and the Commission is poised to take additional immediate action to extend operation through the winter. EDF has consistently told regulators that the pipeline should be allowed to operate through the winter, with appropriate conditions to protect customers from unnecessary costs.
“EDF has been clear from the start that service to St. Louis customers should not be compromised in any way. Spire’s false claims constitute a fear campaign that has caused great distress among its St. Louis area customers, including its most vulnerable populations. Spire’s fear campaign has caused people to send menacing and threatening messages to our employees. It is time for Spire to take responsibility for its actions and the harm it has caused, and to immediately stop their misleading and harmful claims.”
-- Vickie Patton, General Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund
A copy of EDF’s cease and desist letter, which contains details of the legal process as well as some of the many threatening communications we have received, is available here.
EDF filed suit in January 2020 over concerns that the Spire STL pipeline was granted a certificate by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission without the legally required justification that the costly pipeline was needed and beneficial to the public – a legal safeguard meant to protect customers from unnecessary costs, and landowners from inappropriate condemnation of their property.
In June, a U.S. Court of Appeals agreed, finding serious deficiencies in FERC’s approval. In October, the United States Supreme Court declined Spire’s request to stay or halt the Circuit Court ruling. FERC granted Spire STL a temporary operating certificate to continue operating the pipeline through December 13th and is poised to extend the order for the remainder of the winter.
EDF has repeatedly supported the extension, most recently in a letter to FERC on November 10th . Going forward, we believe FERC must do a better job of assessing the benefits and burdens of the infrastructure it approves to ensure customers are protected from unnecessary costs.
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