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Beyond Gas

Concord mothers are fighting for the swift and equitable transition away from dirty methane gas to clean heat & renewable energy.

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Our Goal

Mothers Out Front of Concord is working to move our town beyond methane gas – a dirty, dangerous fossil fuel.  We do this by:

  • Raising awareness about the prevalence and danger of methane gas leaks
  • Teaching Concord residents about alternatives to natural gas for heating & cooking
  • Working with local leaders to incentivize building electrification
  • Pushing for state legislation which accelerates a transition off of natural gas
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Gas Leaks in Concord

The Town of Concord has 151 active gas leaks spewing more than 55 megatons of methane into the community every year. Gas leaks pollute our air, endanger residents, kill shade trees, cost ratepayers money, and contribute to climate change.

Massachusetts gas utility companies are required to report the location of gas leaks in their territories. In 2020, utilities reported 14,640 un-repaired gas leaks across the Commonwealth. Last year, these leaks released an estimated 5,753 metric tons of methane into the atmosphere. That is roughly equivalent to the emissions of 107,562 US passenger cars.

Utilities are allowed to charge ratepayers for the methane that leaks out of their distribution system. As a result, Massachusetts ratepayers handed over an estimated $5.4 million to cover the cost of leaked gas in 2020.

FAQ

What is natural gas?

Methane (CH4), a tasteless, colorless, and odorless gas, is the primary component of natural gas. Gas utility companies add mercaptan, a sulfur-smelling chemical, so people recognize and report gas leaks when they occur.

How do gas leaks contribute to climate change?

Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases. Methane’s lifetime in the atmosphere is much shorter than carbon dioxide (CO2), but methane is more efficient at trapping radiation than CO2. Pound for pound, the comparative impact of methane is 25 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period.

[source: IPCC (2007). Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. [S. Solomon, D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, United Kingdom 996 pp.]

Why are there so many gas leaks?

Massachusetts has one of the oldest gas pipeline networks in the country, and more than 11% of it is made from leak-prone materials like cast iron and bare steel. Some of the pipes running under our streets are more than 100 years old.

How are gas leaks prioritized for repair?

When a gas leak is reported, the gas utility must assess the leak to determine if it poses a safety hazard. Gas leaks are graded into three categories:

  • Grade 1: Potentially explosive leaks, should be repaired immediately
  • Grade 2: Leaks that pose a potential future hazard, should be repaired within 12 months
  • Grade 3: Non hazardous leaks, not required to be repaired unless…
  • SEI: Pose a “significant environmental impact,” must be repaired within 2 years.

Climate advocates have fought hard to change regulations governing Grade 3 leaks. In the past, Grade 3 leaks never had to be repaired, no matter how much methane they released into the atmosphere. Legislative wins and regulatory changes in recent years mean gas utilities have finally started to measure the size of reported gas leaks. Those found to have “significant environmental impact” (SEI) are prioritized for repair, but the pace of repairs remains slow.

Who creates the gas leaks maps?

HEET, a Cambridge-based nonprofit working to cut carbon emissions, generates gas leaks maps using data reported by gas utility companies. They have maps of every town in Massachusetts. Check it out here.

Umbrella Earth Day Celebration

 

Get Involved

VOLUNTEER with Concord Chapter to support our Beyond Gas campaign. No contribution is too small! Here are some ways you could help move Concord off of methane gas.

  • Shirt up and show up: Represent Mothers Out Front at demonstrations, hearings, and town meeting – all over Zoom.
  • Become a Liaison: Help us build alliances and stay in the know by representing our chapter at outside meetings!
  • Teach a Workshop: Are you a chef, dietitian, or top-notch home cook?  Teach an induction cooking class!

Report a Gas Leak

If you smell gas, call 1-800-233-5325.

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