UPDATED, Oct. 9: An estimated 25 people demonstrated in front of Town Hall on Saturday, Sept. 25, as Arlington Mothers Out Front asked the public to move away from using natural gas as an energy source and pleaded with National Grid to fix all 15 of the town’s big gas leaks by the legally mandated deadline, two years from official identification of the leak, or sooner.
Globe, Oct. 4: As Mass. envisions fossil fuel-free future, gas companies quietly invest billions in pipelines
Gas Leak Allies' report >>
Speaking a noon, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine urged the public to push National Grid, the town’s gas provider, to repair large gas leaks, including one estimated at 9,000 square feet in front of Town Hall, which has killed a number of trees next to Mass. Ave.
Last of 3 demonstrations set
In 2016, Chapdelaine said, Mothers Out Front, in collaboration with his office and the gas leaks task force, identified and tagged 175 gas leaks in town. Five years later, he said such leaks in town have grown to 269. "The utilities have not made progress in fixing these gas leaks, in Arlington and across the state," Chapdelaine said.
The target date for National Grid to present a plan for achieving climate goals to the state is March 22.
The group was the host for the event and staffed an informational table in front of the Town Hall steps. Tables are planned near other large gas leaks for Saturday, Oct. 2, at Uncle Sam Plaza and Saturday, Oct. 9, from 10 to 1 p.m., at Town Hall Plaza. An earlier release said this event would be across from Arlington High.
Mothers Out Front, a grass-roots group working to ensure a livable climate for all children, has worked for years to draw attention to the pervasiveness and dangers of gas leaks in Massachusetts. Among thousands of leaks in the aging natural-gas infrastructure, the largest 7 percent of them account for 50 percent of all leak emissions. The leaks are large enough to affect an area at least 2,000 square feet, about the size of a tennis court. These large-volume gas leaks accelerate climate change and take a toll on public health, the group said in a news release.
Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas over the first 20 years in the atmosphere, according to a 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
Effects of leaks
Gas leaks are linked to many serious health problems and even premature death, the group's release said. Most at risk are children, the elderly and people with asthma, COPD or lung damage from Covid-19. Methane also kills street trees as it suffocates their roots, leading to heat islands and worsening air quality, exacerbating the dangers to public health. This occurred near Town Hall in 2018.
Fifteen known large gas leaks have been identified in Arlington. See information at www.heet.org, which reflects data from utility companies.
"These gas leaks must be repaired swiftly to stop the leaking of methane," the release says. "The utilities should not, however, invest in the replacement of gas infrastructure (except for essential safety reasons).
"Instead, the Mothers Out Front Future of Clean Heat Platform calls for the utilities to lead the way to replace fossil fuels in homes and buildings throughout Massachusetts with all-electric solutions that are safe, healthy and affordable for all. Through the use of renewable energy, electric heating and cooling technologies such as heat pumps, and programs to install better insulation, we can transition away from polluting and dangerous fossil fuels such as natural gas."
For more information about Arlington Mothers Out Front, click here >>
Supporting this effort is SustainableArlington.org, an Arlington group supporting a sustainable future in town since 1999.
July 25, 2020: Town group tracking gas leaks seeks scent of danger
This news announcement was published Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, and updated Sept. 28, to change Oct. 2 location and clarify copy, as well as Oct. 1, to change headline, and Oct. 4 and 8, to add links. And on Oct. 9, to change location to Town Hall.
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