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Spire Pipeline Reveals Deeper Questions in Natural Gas

Spire Missouri has spent weeks warning its Natural Gas customers in the St. Louis area that they may be without heat this winter due to a legal challenge to a pipeline built by one of its affiliate firms in 2018. Clean energy supporters and government officials have slammed the assertions, claiming that the utility is creating fear and inciting threats against an environmental organization unnecessarily and dishonestly.

As the back-and-forth reached a fever pitch last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced on Thursday that the pipeline’s emergency permission would likely be extended, putting a temporary halt to the dispute.

On the other hand, the temporary compromise will do little to resolve a more significant, if less visible, dispute in the state about natural gas’s role. According to Spire and its opponents ‘ documents, natural gas demand in the St. Louis area is expected to remain constant or fall. So instead of creating new pipelines and natural gas infrastructure, clean energy activists argue that the state should invest in energy efficiency, electrification, and renewable electricity generation to replace natural gas.

Spire, they believe, was attempting to elicit public support for natural gas by inciting public outrage over the pipeline permission, even though there was little likelihood FERC would order the pipeline to be shut down during the winter. The (STL) pipeline is part of the industry’s more significant purpose of placing infrastructure in the ground to make it more challenging to make the essential shift away from their highly harmful product, methane gas, which we must make if we are to combat catastrophic climate change.

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