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Federal regulators say Spire Inc. will be allowed to continue operating a natural gas pipeline in the St. Louis region until a long-term decision is made about the project’s future.

The 65-mile pipeline, which runs through parts of Missouri and Illinois, was granted a temporary operating permit Friday by leaders of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The order will last as long as it takes for the agency to determine the project’s future, as it was ordered to do in June when a court revoked the line’s approval, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Spire sent emails to its 600,000 customers in November warning that natural gas service could be disrupted this winter if the pipeline was shut down.

Political leaders and the Environmental Defense Fund, which filed a lawsuit seeking to shut down the pipeline, criticized the utility for creating undue panic.

In June, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that FERC had not adequately demonstrated a need for the project.

The ruling vacated approval of the pipeline, and ordered to FERC to determine what to do with the project.

Also on Friday, Spire filed an appeal asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the ruling that struck down the pipeline’s authorization.

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