Supreme Court Will Not Block U.S. Court of Appeals’ Decision that Approval of Spire STL Pipeline was Unlawful

FERC’s Separate Emergency Decision Provides for Continued Operation

October 15, 2021
Lauren Whittenberg, (512) 691-3437,
Lexie Michel, (952) 457-1418,

(WASHINGTON) As reported, the U.S. Supreme Court today denied a request by Spire to stay the mandate of the unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that the approval of the Spire pipeline was unlawful. That judicial ruling overturned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s 2018 determination that the company could build and operate a natural gas pipeline serving the St. Louis region without having demonstrated the need for the pipeline in accordance with the law and in a context where there was record evidence of self-dealing. Under a separate emergency ruling by the commission, Spire is currently authorized to operate, and FERC is poised to issue another temporary certificate to allow for continued operation to ensure reliability. 

“The Supreme Court decision will leave the D.C. Circuit’s mandate in effect to protect ratepayers, land-owners and all adversely impacted by the problematic decision to approve this pipeline while Spire will continue to operate under a separate emergency order of the commission.

“The D.C. Circuit decision was thorough and well-reasoned, and it is important that the commission now reform its review procedures to put people first — the hard-working ratepayers who bear the costs, the landowners whose property was impacted, the communities adversely affected, and many who are having their lives disrupted. Spire currently has a temporary certificate to operate, and FERC is poised to issue another temporary certificate to ensure reliability. FERC can determine the appropriate conditions for a temporary certificate and ensure continuity of service for the people of St. Louis.”

The case in question is EDF v. FERC. In June, the D.C. Circuit vacated FERC’s orders approving the Spire STL pipeline and remanded the matter to FERC for further proceedings. The Court found that FERC did not sufficiently analyze whether the pipeline was in fact needed and failed to weigh the benefits of the pipeline against adverse effects, including impacts on ratepayers, landowners and communities in the vicinity of the pipeline. The D.C. Circuit subsequently denied Spire’s petition for rehearing and motion to stay issuance of the mandate. Spire asked the Supreme Court to recall the D.C. Circuit’s mandate but has not yet filed a petition for writ of certiorari.

FERC granted Spire a 90-day temporary emergency certificate on September 14, 2021 so the company could provide continuity of service for its St. Louis customers. FERC is expected to issue another decision in the matter soon.

For additional background, see EDF’s blog post.

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