As ratepayers, we are subsidizing nearly $90 million per year for unaccounted for gas that escapes through leaks. Even the most conservative estimates suggest that there are nearly 2,000 gas leaks in Boston (other independent reports peg the number at more than double that figure); and yet there seems to be little action from the gas companies to address this problem. Gas leaks can last for years, if not decades. To wit: last year, a gas leak outside of Kenmore Square celebrated it’s 30th birthday.
Gas leaks can be damaging to the environment, cause public health problems, and violate consumer protection. Moreover, the ill-conceived and potentially dangerous proposed West Roxbury lateral pipeline project seems to be based on the premise that we need to provide more gas to more customers. While Attorney General Maura Healey has correctly debunked the myth promulgated by the gas companies; I would further suggest that fixing the current leaks would allow for a better delivery of service while not increasing infrastructure capacity.
This past April, I was proud to have introduced the Boston Gas Leaks Elimination Ordinance before the City Council. The ordinance was the result of resolutions passed in 2015 in support of state legislation and a subsequent working group that was empaneled to look at gas leaks in the city. Through the incredible partnership of several environmental justice groups such as Mothers Out Front, the Boston Climate Action Network, West Roxbury Saves Energy, the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, the Arborway Coalition and others, I believe that we are able to craft a solid and substantive piece of legislation that will: prioritize gas leaks by risk and volume; allow for a real time and objective public monitoring of leaks; improve coordination between utility companies and the city during road work; and establish a six year time frame for fixing any leak.
We will be holding a public hearing to discuss this ordinance next Tuesday, July 12th, at 1pm in the Council chamber (on the 5th floor of Boston City Hall). If you are interested and available, I would like to invite you to come and testify (please note: if you cannot attend and would like to submit testimony, you may do so by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
It is important to note that there are some good things happening in this realm at the state level. State Representative Lori Ehrlich and State Senator Jamie Eldridge deserve enormous credit for their work in advancing similar state legislation. Yet, the cause endures and the work goes on. Just as we should be looking at more renewable energy sources for our future; so too should be fixing the issues that impact our environment, health, and bank account now.
I hope to see you on July 12th.
All the best,