News & Politics

Spire Energy Warns Missouri Customers of Possible Outages

(Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP, file)

I’ll admit it. Teslas look cool. And if the price ever came down to the point that I could afford one and the home conversion kit that comes with it, I might even be convinced to buy one. But I have enough debt, thank you. And that’s not figuring in the costs of repairs which is by some accounts some can range somewhere between “What the &*#[email protected]?” and plain, old “%&#@!”, even for things that you used to be able to fix with a quick trip to the auto parts store.

But, if you can afford a Tesla, buy a Tesla. At least you never need to change the oil. I suspect many people would purchase a Tesla if they could. But for many ordinary Americans, the cost is out of the question. And with the price of everything but air going up, I’ll wager that most people are not interested in financing a Tesla right now.

Once upon a time, we considered converting our cars over to natural gas. Natural gas is clean, and the people I knew who had made the switch said that the interiors of their cars were wearing out faster than the engines. At the time I lived in natural gas country, and people were very optimistic that this would be yet another way to parlay an affordable energy source beyond simply heating homes. There were visions of natural gas filling stations cropping up across the west and eventually the nation. And while there are CNG vehicles on the road, even the MSM is admitting that energy prices are high, and that includes natural gas.

Last week, the Missouri energy company Spire Energy sent an email to its customers warning against possible natural gas outages if the STL pipeline is shut down. The pipeline, which runs from Illinois to Missouri, had been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission but was challenged in a January 2020 lawsuit by the Environmental Defense Fund against the agency. The suit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. According to a press release by the EDF, the suit was filed because FERC gave the go-ahead nod without determining if there was sufficient need for the pipeline and without the input of other parties.

The Missouri Court of Appeals agreed and the matter is once again before FERC. The agency will discuss whether or not it will revoke the permit on Nov. 18.

The email from Spire stated in part:

“Spire has been working to keep the pipeline in service this winter as government regulators consider its long-term use. In fact, this week our CEO and Chief Legal Counsel traveled to Washington D.C. to talk with as many lawmakers as possible to help them understand the potential impact to the St. Louis community. We’re confident that we’ve done everything we can to demonstrate the critical role the pipeline plays in providing the St. Louis community with energy, but there are no guarantees it will operate beyond Dec. 13.”

Dec. 13 refers to the end of the operation extension granted by FERC. Spire and its opponents held separate press conferences last week, with the company stating its position, while Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Gillian Giannetti accused the company of trying to generate fear. Giannetti said “ Spire is leaning into fearmongering because it knows that facts are not on its side. No one is going to leave St. Louis in the cold, and no one is asking for (regulators) to just shut down the pipeline without finding out a way to untangle this mess.”

Of note, even the EDF is not calling for the pipeline to be shut down during the colder months. There have also been accusations that Spire omitted mentioning that a panel of judges found that FERC ignored instances of the company “self-dealing” when it came to the pipeline. Critics contend that by using its own pipeline Spire can make more money than it can by using gas from other suppliers. Spire says that option is no longer feasible because of pricing and supply issues.

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If it is self-dealing, Spire would be placing unnecessary financial burdens on its customers. And if that is the case, someone needs to go to the woodshed. But let us keep in mind that one of the key reasons energy prices are going through the roof in the U.S. is because the Biden administration has aggressively cut back on America’s ability to produce and deliver oil and gas. The overarching issue is whether or not Spire’s opponents are upset about its business model or upset about the use of fossil fuels in general.

Natural gas is clean, and the methods of extracting it have improved by leaps and bounds with the advent of technology such as directional drilling. It can heat homes and power vehicles. But in the name of combatting climate change, people will be forced to make some very harsh decisions this year.

The irony is that by attacking gas, climate advocates are ignoring a very environmentally-friendly solution. While obviously not renewable, it could be the thing that helps make the transition to renewables easier on the common person. And the people in charge at the moment seem to be bent on renewables and nothing but renewables, no matter the human cost.  Just as many Americans are in no position to buy a Tesla, many Americans are in no position to convert to renewables right now

Meanwhile in Russia, OSO Gazprom is almost finished with construction on the Sakhalin–Khabarovsk–Vladivostok gas trunkline, which will serve people on the eastern edge of the country. Notice you do not see people taking issue with Russia or China and those nations’ effect on the environment. It raises an important question: Why can the world only be saved by limiting American energy?