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ST. LOUIS– Local natural gas utility Spire Inc. is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow it to keep operating a pipeline through Illinois and Missouri, warning that a winter shutdown could be devastating to St. Louis-area customers.

In a filing last week, Spire requested a stay that would allow operation of its Spire STL Pipeline until the issue is resolved in the courts.

If the Supreme Court declines to take up the case, operation of the pipeline could cease on Dec. 13 unless the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) extends an emergency order granted in September.

FERC’s emergency order was issued after a federal appeals court denied a petition from Spire. In the petition, Spire asked the court to reconsider its June ruling to vacate FERC’s 2018 approval of the 65-mile natural gas pipeline.

The court ruled FERC “failed to adequately balance public benefits and adverse impacts” in approving the pipeline. The court also questioned the pipeline’s necessity.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed a lawsuit challenging the pipeline. Recently, it filed comments with FERC supporting Spire’s emergency certificate.

The filing said the temporary emergency certificate is appropriate for the winter season “to prevent disruption to natural gas services to St. Louis residents”.

It also says while the temporary certificate is appropriate the commission should still impose conditions on that certificate to protect St. Louis gas customers and communities along the pipeline route without risking curtailment of service to Spire’s Missouri customers.

The closure of the pipeline could disrupt service to 400,000 Spire Customers in the St. Louis area.

AP contributed to this story.