Statewide Gas Leaks and Pipelines

The Pipeline Campaign

Two new pipelines were proposed for the greater Boston market: the Kinder Morgan Northeastern Energy Direct project (NED) and the Spectra Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline. Both pipelines would have unnecessarily added new natural gas capacity, tilted the regional energy market against renewable energy sources, and invested billions of dollars in fossil fuel infrastructure that we are trying to phase out.

BostonCAN:

  • Worked with tens of groups across the state to organize a State House rally and lobby day that drew over 500 participants.
  • Mobilized our members to sign petitions and submit comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
  • Alerted a sister organization to a public meeting on the Spectra pipeline, which led to a massive organizing effort.

Campaign Victory!

The Kinder Morgan Northeastern Energy Direct project was cancelled in April of 2016. We are continuing to fight the AIM pipeline At a minimum, Spectra may move the AIM pipeline away from an active quarry and densely populated residential area in Boston.

Statewide Gas Leaks Campaign

In 2015, BostonCAN worked with Clean Water Action and communities across the Commonwealth to demand that we Fix the Leaks First. We worked to advance two bills to speed up leak repair:
H.2870, “An Act Relative to Protecting Consumers of Gas and Electricity from Paying for Leaked and Unaccounted for Gas” that would protect gas and electricity customers from paying for lost and unaccounted for gas by requiring utility companies to absorb this cost.
H.2871, “An Act Relative to Gas Leak Repairs During Road Projects” that would require utility companies to repair “non-hazardous” grade 3 gas leaks whenever a road is opened up for repair or work on underground infrastructure.
BCAN campaigned for these two bills and helped get 13 municipalities to pass resolutions in support of H.2870 and H.2871, including Arlington, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Cohasset, Framingham, Marblehead, Newton, Northampton, Pittsfield, Salem, Somerville, and Waltham.

Campaign Victory!

A version of H.2871 was included in omnibus energy legislation in 2016. H2870 has been refiled as H2683/S1845 and we are currently campaigning to support the new iteration of this bill.

About the campaigns

The Gas Leak Allies Working Group and Mayor Walsh celebrate the signing of Boston’s Gas Leak Ordinance with Councilor O’Malley and other allies on December 11.
The Gas Leak Allies Working Group and Mayor Walsh celebrate the signing of Boston’s Gas Leak Ordinance with Councilor O’Malley and other allies on December 11.

The Working Group is continuing to reduce gas leaks statewide by:

Telling other cities how to pass Boston-type ordinances. More ordinances will

  • offer ways for cities and utilities to coordinate leak repair and get data on local leaks
  • pressure the legislature (and the utilities) to adopt practices statewide
  • show cities that they have power and responsibility for repairing leaks.

The Working Group is writing up the story of the Boston ordinance campaign for other cities’ use.

Researching best ways to identify super-emitters. The biggest 7% of leaks emit half of all the lost gas, according to Margaret Hendrick’s recent BU study. Fixing these leaks fast will bring down methane emissions sharply, protect the climate, and save customers money.

However, neither the gas utilities nor the Department of Public Utilities knows how to find super-emitters accurately. HEET is leading a study that compares different leak measurement techniques in coalition with Eversource in Cambridge, Columbia Gas across their territory, and maybe National Grid.

Pushing state agencies to adopt stronger, better gas leak regulations. Last year the legislature told the Department of Public Utilities and the Department of Environmental Protection to focus on “environmentally significant leaks,” aka super-emitters. A Conservation Law Foundation lawsuit also forced Governor Baker to identify how the state will actually meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals under the Global Warming Solutions Act.

In response, the DEP copied a utility company memo on leak repair. The DEP’s proposed regulations would let gas utilities delay repairs for up to five years. They would not actually measure leaks – instead, they’d use estimates that have no proven relationship with actual leak volume. And their estimate of the climate impact from methane leaks could be nine times lower than the actual impact.

The Working Group and BostonCAN submitted comments to the DEP and we will follow up at the DEP’s next public review meeting on February 6 in Boston. We will push the DEP to get real numbers for emissions, not estimates.

We also submitted comments to the DPU and we’re following up on those.

Passing statewide legislation. Rep Christine Barber (Somerville) re-filed Rep. Lori Ehrlich’s consumer cost protection bill—H.2870—now Docket HD2253 in the House, SD1113 in the Senate. This bill would make the utilities pay for lost gas, not us. We are looking for cosponsors – ask your state rep and senators now!

A gas workers’ safety bill has also been re-filed.

Find your local gas leaks

  • Get your town or neighborhood’s gas leak score!
    • Our hero, Lee Humphrey, has used the 2014 data from utilities to create scorecards for each town and city in MA with 100 or more leaks. Scorecards are also available for towns with fewer than 100 leaks that are represented by members of TU&E and Speaker DeLeo.
    • Each scorecard shows the number of leaks of each grade, how many new ones were reported, how many have been fixed, the oldest leak, and an estimate of the annual cost of the leaks. They come with citations of sources and methodology, which should always accompany them.
    • Maps of gas leaks (drawn from HEET’s online maps) are also available. These have proved to have a lasting impact on officials and the public.
    • Bring your town’s scorecard and map to all your meetings and events. Send them to your elected officials, representatives, and senators.
    • Scorecards are available here. Please use scorecards with this sources and methodology sheet!
    • NOTE: Average annual cost per leak varies. The scorecards use $3600 per leak as an average annual cost of leaked gas. National Grid estimates $1087. A Harvard/BU study estimates $5868. These estimates are explained and sourced in the data and methodology page that accompanies the scorecards. We recommend that you include the range of estimates rather than a single number when using the scorecards. Just multiply each cost estimate by the number of leaks in your town or city to get the range of the total costs

Pipelines and the Gas Tariff

The gas tariff: research and talking points (by Emily Kirkland of the Better Future Project)

Power System Reliability in New England:  Meeting Electric Resource Needs in an Era of Growing Dependence on Natural Gas (Study). 

  • On November 18, 2015, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office released a study that evaluates options to address regional electricity reliability in New England, including new natural gas capacity, through 2030. The Study found that, under existing market conditions (status quo), there is no electric sector reliability deficiency through 2030, and that no additional pipeline gas capacity is needed to meet electric reliability needs.  reros-infographic-full