In January 2015, we discovered a new Harvard/BU study on methane leaks from the natural gas utility pipelines in greater Boston. The study revealed that there were at least 3,200 leaks in our area, amounting to 15 billion cubic feet of lost gas a year, enough to power 200,000 homes. This UAG (lost and unaccounted for gas) is valued conservatively at $90 million dollars a year, and impacts our health and safety. And we, the consumers of Boston, MA, are paying for it!
Working with Audrey Schulman of HEET and Joel Wool of Clean Water Action, as well as the Jamaica Plain community team, we met with one Boston City Councilors after another to make our case. Councilor Matt O’Malley was inspired to call a hearing, which was scheduled on September 21st. The result of the hearing was that a resolution to urge passage of two bills, (H2780 and H2781 that, if successful, could substantially reduce the number of leaks) was approved!
AND since that hearing, 21 city and town governments have passed resolutions supporting the legislation and several are going further to work towards passage of related city ordinances.
On November 17, 2015 a State House hearing on H2870 and H2871 took place and once again, Mothers Out Front and our allies packed the room after a stirring rally on the State House steps.
Watch Claire Humphrey's (Mothers Out Front Jamaica Plain) testimony at that hearing:
Take Action: Please call or write your state representatives to support two bills before the MA legislature that will address the problem:
- H.2870 protects consumers of gas and electricity from paying for leaked and unaccounted for gas, putting the fiscal responsibility on the utility company. Passage of this bill would create an incentive for utility companies to fix the leaks.
- H.2871 requires gas companies to check for and repair gas leaks whenever significant roadwork is being done. This would require a more proactive approach to finding and fixing leaks and would prevent repeated opening and rebuilding of roads.
Who We Are. Mothers Out Front is active in Jamaica Plain, and we welcome your involvement – come join us! Like other Mothers Out Front groups, we seek to engage mothers and other allies in addressing climate change at various levels – the personal, neighborhood, city, state level, and beyond.
JP and Downtown/Back Bay Mothers Out Front members, along with allies, meet with State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz’s staff at MA Power Forward Lobby Day, January 2017
Get Involved. We meet monthly for planning and conversation over a light supper at members’ houses, usually on weekday evenings, with several action teams meeting between times. We also sponsor regular meet-ups, house parties, coffee shop drop-ins, art builds, meetings with legislators, and other events for those who want to be involved but can’t manage a regular meeting. We welcome your interest and involvement, at whatever level.
For more information, or to get involved in any of the initiatives described below, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recent Activities: Gas Leaks. Since 2015, our group has been working with our Downtown Boston/Back Bay Mothers Out Front counterparts to take on the issue of gas leaks – the thousands of leaks, some of them decades old, seeping methane from our aging underground infrastructure. Not only can these leaks trigger explosions, kill trees, and cause health problems, they are a major contributor to climate change. Leaking methane is 84 times more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide in its first 20 years in the atmosphere. And unbelievably, the utilities don’t pay for this leaking gas – we do! They pass the cost on to us. Why are the utilities planning big new gas pipelines before fixing the leaky pipelines we have?
We fought for and achieved key wins on the gas leaks issue over the past year:
- State gas leaks legislation passed. In summer 2016, Governor Baker signed into law an omnibus energy bill including language requiring utilities for the first time to fix not only explosive leaks but those that have a significant environmental impact. Baker also issued an executive order laying out a comprehensive plan to address climate change, specifically including gas leaks
- City gas leaks ordinance passed. In December 2016, the City of Boston enacted a gas leaks ordinance that requires expedited, better-coordinated, and safer gas leaks repair.
- Utilities agreed to work with us. Columbia Gas, Eversource, and National Grid have agreed to work with us on a study of how to best identify high-volume “super-emitter” leaks so that they can be targeted for repair. They have hired new crews and agreed to fix all leaks within an expedited time-frame.
But there is still work to do:
- Passing consumer protection legislation. We are pushing for a state bill that would require the utilities to pay for leaked gas, not us.
- Making sure new laws have teeth and get enforced. State agencies are now creating regulations concerning gas leaks, and some of their proposals are weak – we are testifying and pushing for stronger requirements.
- Making sure the utilities fulfill their commitments. We meet regularly with the utilities to make sure they are pursuing gas leaks repair rapidly and effectively, as promised.
- Changing the story. Gas isn’t natural and it isn’t clean. It’s a fossil fuel and it leaks at every part of the distribution system. We need to build an energy future that relies on cleaner sources.
Recent Activities: Building Our Team
- We hold regular house parties, meet-ups, and other events to engage with JP and other Boston residents who care about climate change. We have had meet-ups on gas leaks, a report-back from the Paris climate talks, and ways to get involved in Mothers Out Front.
- We participate in marches, parades, and rallies in solidarity with other climate action groups – like the Women’s March, March for Science, HONK Festival, the Louis D. Brown Mother’s Day Walk for Peace, and the Wake Up The Earth festival.
Art Build to make signs for Women’s March, January 2017
- Our members are involved in a wide range of other Mothers Out Front work: participating in statewide task forces on stopping new gas pipelines and encouraging renewable energy, coaching other newly-forming Mothers Out Front teams in Massachusetts and other states, and working on environmental justice issues and growing the diversity of our movement, to name a few.
Join us! For more information, or to get involved in any of the initiatives described above, please email us at email@example.com.
Other Boston climate-related websites of interest: