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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.


Our Goal

Mothers Out Front of Concord is working to move our community beyond methane gas – a fossil fuel that threatens the stability of our climate and pollutes our air.  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

Gas Leaks in Concord

Gas leaks pollute our air, endanger residents, kill shade trees, cost ratepayers money, and contribute to climate change. Natural gas leaks reported by utilities in Massachusetts were responsible for an estimated 6,734 metric tons of methane emissions in 2021. Utilities charge ratepayers for the methane that leaks out of their distribution system. As a result, Massachusetts ratepayers handed over an estimated $6.9 million to cover the cost of leaked gas in 2021.

Last year, utilities reported 141 open leaks and 31 repaired leaks in the Town of Concord. These leaks were responsible for 50.4 metric tons of methane emissions, equivalent to 4,335 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or $51,312 of leaked gas (at residential rate).

Source: HEET Annual Gas Leaks Map 2021


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.

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Report a Gas Leak

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


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