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Spire STL Pipeline gets widespread support after concerns over shutdown's potential impact

Politicians of both parties are supporting the pipeline's continued operation as concerns about residential heating and business production are raised.

ST. LOUIS — The Public Utilities Commission of Missouri sent a letter to federal regulators urging them to grant Spire an immediate extension to operate the STL Pipeline, which they say is necessary to provide adequate natural gas supply to the entire region.

When a winter storm knocked out power across Texas, Ray McCarty saw firsthand look at how it impacted businesses in the Show-Me State.

“We had plants in southern Missouri that were shut down because they couldn’t get enough gas to the plants,” said Ray McCarty, President of the Associated Industries of Missouri.

Now, McCarty is concerned it could happen all over again with the looming closure of the 65-mile Spire STL Pipeline.

“We can’t imagine what the impact would be shutting that thing down when we’re going into the winter heating season,” said McCarty. “I think we’re officially in that now. We just see that as being potentially dangerous not just for the homeowners out there but think of where everyone works.”

The STL Pipeline has drawn bipartisan support from Sen. Roy Blunt and Mayor Tishaura Jones.

“The Spire STL Pipeline Project provides important access to abundant, affordable, and reliable supplies of clean natural gas produced from diverse domestic sources,” said St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones. “I am concerned with the detrimental effects an immediate shutdown of the STL Pipeline would have on communities in and around St. Louis during the winter months. We saw the importance of having diverse natural gas supply in February 2021 during Winter Storm Uri, which caused severe natural gas supply disruptions, unprecedented spikes in the cost of natural gas, and widespread service outages across the country. The outages during Winter Storm Uri resulted in a tragic loss of human life and nearly $200 billion in damages, making it one of the deadliest and costliest natural disasters in United States history."

In a letter to FERC, Anheuser-Busch Senior General Manager Jim Bicklein said, “St. Louis is home to our oldest and largest brewery, and it relies on natural gas for brewing. Further, more than 30% of our shipments from the St. Louis brewery to our wholesalers is via trucks that use compressed natural gas (CNG). If the STL Pipeline were to be shut off, our brewery operations would be impacted and the station we use near the brewery would be impacted and the station we use near the brewery would also be shut off, severely curtailing our fleet. This, in turn, would cause a ripple effect throughout our broader industry. With the potential limitation and outages extending beyond our own operations to other businesses, negative economic consequences for the entire St. Louis region are inevitable.”

RELATED: Anheuser-Busch, other St. Louis businesses warn of dire consequences if gas pipeline shuttered

“Very short delays even in a just-in-time manufacturing operation can be millions of dollars,” said McCarty.

“No one has suggested the Spire pipeline should be shut down immediately,” said Natalie Karas, senior director and lead counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund. “Spire currently holds a temporary certificate to operate its pipeline, and FERC is poised to issue another temporary certificate to keep the pipeline operational through the winter to ensure reliable service to St. Louis customers. A short-term extension is a reasonable short-term solution while FERC conducts a fact-based process under the law to determine the future of the pipeline.”

“We hope that the government regulators will come to their senses and grant that temporary certificate,” said McCarty.

As it stands the STL Pipeline must cease production on Dec. 13.

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