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Missouri utility company warns of blackouts as Biden admin debates closing key pipeline

"Customers need to know that without the STL Pipeline in service during winter weather, the possibility of service disruptions and outages throughout the St. Louis area is very real," said Spire president Scott Carter.

Adam Dobrer Vancouver

Spire Energy, a natural gas firm that supplies 1.7 million homes in Missouri, Alabama, and Mississipi warned custormers in an email that a federal review of the STL Pipeline could jeopardize their energy supply.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will discuss revoking the pipeline's permit during a Nov. 18 hearing.

In an email to customers, Spire Energy president Scott Carter wrote that "The STL Pipeline was built to support your energy needs, along with those of more than 650,000 homes and businesses in the St. Louis region," adding that "Since 2019, this safe, fully operational pipeline has been bringing even more reliable and affordable natural gas to our community. Unfortunately, while the STL Pipeline continues to operate todat, it is now in jeopardy."

The STL Pipeline runs from Illinois to Missouri and received initial FERC approval in 2018, beginning to serve customers in mid-2019.

Shortly after the pipeline became operational, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) sued to overturn the approval. A June ruling by the Missouri Court of Appeals sided with the EDF, noting that FERC did not "adequately analyze the pipeline's permit request," punting the matter back to the FERC.

The EDF has accused Spire Energy of "fear-mongering" by warning customers of blackouts. In a press conference Thursday, Carter doubled down, reiterating the threat posed by the FERC to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"Our commitment has been to remain informative," Carter told reporters, rebutting fear-mongering accusations, according to the Dispatch. "We've continued to highlight the importance of the pipeline."

The STL Pipeline is allowed to continue operating until mid-December pending FERC's decision, NBC affiliate KSDK-TV reported.

President Joe Biden has diverged from Trump-era energy policy as part of a shift in priorities towards combatting "climate change."

Since taking office, Biden revoked permits of the Keystone XL pieline, froze oil drilling off the coast of Alaska, and placed another Michigan pipeline providing energy to the American Midwest under review.

Recent negotiations at the COP26 Conference in Glasgow have also produced stronger commitments to slash greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, "phase down" coal and provide further financial assistance to developing countries.  This all comes as Americans face higher costs for energy due to supply shocks and inflationary pressure created in part by pandemic lockdowns.

Biden appointed Rich Glick to chair FERC. In September, the president selected former Washington, D.C., Public Service Commission Chairman Willie Phillips to join FERC, giving Democrats majority control of the five-person commission.

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