Letter to the Editor, June 26, 2017: Update on Bedford’s Gas Leaks

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By Kristina Phillipson, Mothers out Front, Bedford

This summer, the State’s Joint Committee on Telecommunication, Utilities and Energy (TUE) will consider the Consumer Cost Protection Bill (H.2683 / S.1845) to address the problems caused by harmful natural gas leaks in the Commonwealth. The bill will give all the state’s gas utilities an incentive to use accurate measurement tools, fix super emitters first and gradually eliminate leaks over a 6 year period. The legislation will also stop the practice of billing consumers for leaked gas.

Our small town of Bedford had 92 identified methane gas leaks in 2016, a 21% increase from the prior year. In addition, the town has 8 as yet unrepaired leaks with noticeable smells in residential areas. While effects on the environment are well known, leaking gas also affects the quality of the air we breathe, and our pocketbooks.

As parents, we worry when children play in areas where they could face prolonged exposure to leaking methane. Mothers Out Front has rais,ed awareness about leaks and currently tracks both progress and plans for remediation. Coordination between National Grid and town government on gas main replacements and fixes has improved, but the largest emitters (based on smell) remain unfixed because National Grid’s measurement tools do not identify them as imminently hazardous. In the face of conflicting measurements, we appreciate that National Grid and others are voluntarily working with nearby towns to improve accuracy.

Like other towns, Bedford residents are charged for leaked methane. The Cost Protection legislation will stop this billing practice.

As fellow citizens and as mothers, we urge you to support passage of this bill. It gives the utilities an incentive to act faster, it offers consumers a small break on their gas bills and, most importantly, it paves the way to healthier air for our children.

We hope you will let Senator Mike Barrett (Chair, Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy) know of your support by phone, 617-722-1572, or email, Mike.Barrett@MASenate.gov. You can also contact the bill’s sponsor, Senator Jamie Eldridge, by phone, 617-722-1120, or email, James.Eldridge@MASenate.gov.

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