The natural gas we use to heat our homes and businesses is sent to our buildings through pipes under the streets. These ancient pipes begin to leak over time, releasing natural gas into the atmosphere.
Natural gas is primarily methane (a remarkably potent greenhouse gas). A new Harvard/Boston University study sampled the air over Boston looking for a chemical marker only found with natural gas. The results show 2 to 3 times the previous estimates of natural gas are lost in the Greater Boston area.
These leaks damage the environment as much as 10% of the state’s inventory of greenhouse gasses. This is roughly the same as the emissions of all the businesses and factories in the state.
Since it’s probably easier to fix a significant number of these leaks than to get a lot of businesses to go Net Zero, HEET has been working hard to figure out solutions.
A new bill (HR2870), which HEET helped to create, is currently at the statehouse and would shift this cost of the waste to the utilities. They are the ones who know best where the waste is and what the least expensive ways are to reduce it. When a similar law was passed in Texas, 50% of the leaks were fixed within three years.
A second bill (HR2871) at the state house would mandate that the utilities have to fix all leaks when the streets are open for repaving. Currently they only have to fix the potentially explosive leaks. Fixing leaks when a street is being repaved is the cheapest method for both ratepayer and taxpayer and least intrusive for residents. HEET’s work was instrumental in this bill also.
HEET has taken all the data that National Grid and Eversource reported in March and mapped it Google Maps.
Here are the ways you can help:
- Request a map of the leaks in your town from HEET (suggested donation to HEET of $20).
- Ask your city councilors, alderman, etc. to pass a resolution in support of either or both of these bills. Generally on your municipality’s website, there is an easy link to email all your city councilors. A draft email is below. Attach the map of your town’s leaks.
- Donate to HEET so we can keep doing this work. We are just about out of money for it.
- Volunteer to help map other towns.