Mothers Out Front Launches Initiative to Label Bedford’s Gas Leaks

Thirty residents gathered on Bedford Common for Saturday's rally launching the
Thirty residents gathered on Bedford Common for Saturday’s rally launching the Mothers Out Front initiative to mark the many methane gas leaks in town. Courtesy image (c) Carol Benoit Reynolds, 2016 all rights reserved

Submitted by Sue Swanson and Renu Bostwick for Mothers Out Front

Courtesy image (c) Carol Benoit Reynolds, 2016 all rights reserved
Image (c) Carol Benoit Reynolds, 2016 all rights reserved

New yard signs have been appearing all over Bedford since last Saturday, December 10th.  They identify the approximately 50 methane gas leaks documented by National Grid under our streets.

Mothers Out Front launched this campaign on the central Town Common. Despite the bitter cold, thirty people attended the event, including our own Selectman, Margot Fleischman, and representatives from the Mothers Out Front teams in Concord and Lexington.

Mothers Out Front is a grassroots organization dedicated to ensuring that our children have a livable climate by working to ensure a swift, complete, and just transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean and renewable energy.

Approximately 10% of the natural gas intended for our homes is lost, much of it due to leaks in the aging pipelines that supply towns across the Commonwealth.  Not only does this gas eventually escape into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming, it is also responsible for suffocating trees and other plants as well as exacerbating respiratory ailments.

Courtesy image (c) Carol Benoit Reynolds, 2015 all rights reserved
Courtesy image (c) Carol Benoit Reynolds, 2015 all rights reserved

Surprising to many consumers, utility companies are allowed to pass the cost of this lost gas onto consumers. Natural gas companies like National Grid are required by law to repair all leaks at risk for explosions, but until recently there was no mandate to repair other leaks.  This summer the State Legislature passed a law that requires all leaks be measured to determine the extent of the leak and that gas companies work in close cooperation with Town Departments of Public Works to systematically repair environmentally significant leaks.

The labeling campaign is an attempt by Mothers Out Front to increase public awareness of the problem and motivate National Grid to develop a robust and viable plan to measure and repair the leaks in Bedford, starting with the largest leaks.

Similar campaigns have been conducted in Cambridge and Arlington.  Boston Mothers Out Front also labeled leaks last Saturday, and on Wednesday, December 14th the Boston City Council passed an ordinance that requires gas companies to grade all leaks by volume of emissions and provide the city with reports on both the leaks and their anticipated repair dates.

Research has shown that about half the escaping gas comes from only 7% of the leaks, the “super emitters.”  Mothers Out Front believes that fixing these super emitters is a cost effective way to substantially reduce the amount of methane contributing to climate change.

If you smell gas, the Bedford Fire Department recommends that you call to report it. (Dial 911 or Bedford Police: 781-275-1212 / National Grid:  1-800-548-8000)

Mothers Out Front thanks Ms. Fleischman and all the people who braved the cold weather to attend the kick-off and also those who contacted neighbors, gathered permission for lawn sign installation, and later installed the signs around town.  Together we can not only make Bedford a cleaner, healthier community today but can also give all children a livable climate for the future!

Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: or 781-325-8606

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