BU Professor, Senator to Speak at Gas Leaks Workshop

On Wednesday, October 7, 2015, Quincy Climate Action Network will sponsor a workshop on a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts: leaks from underground natural gas pipes. In Quincy alone, 613 leaks have been reported. The two-hour workshop, for both municipal workers and the general public, will start at 9:30 a.m. at the main branch of the Thomas Crane Public Library, 300 Washington Street in Quincy Center.

Speakers will include Nathan Phillips, a Boston University professor of earth and environment, who will talk about his ground-breaking research on gas leaks. Also speaking will be state Senator Jamie Eldridge, from Acton, who will discuss legislation he has filed on Beacon Hill to encourage gas utilities to repair leaks more promptly.

A manager from the Cambridge DPW will speak on how cities and towns can coordinate with utilities to hasten repairs. Officials from several utilities have also been invited.

Gas leaks account for 10 percent of the Massachusetts carbon footprint, as much as all the state’s factories and retail stores combined, said Audrey Schulman, president of the Home Energy Efficiency Team, a Cambridge nonprofit that is helping organize the workshop along with QCAN and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. According to Schulman, about 2.7 percent of natural gas in Massachusetts is lost to leaks, a loss that is charged to ratepayers.

Cities and towns should care about gas leaks not only because of their contribution to climate change but also because they kill street trees, at a cost of $3000 to $6000 per mile of roadway, Schulman added. In addition, they increase ground-level ozone, a major cause of asthma.

“I’ve been working on energy efficiency in houses for the last eight years,” she said. “Well, underground leaks lose more gas than [the state’s efficiency programs] save. It’s got to be easier to plug these leaks than go house-to-house improving efficiency.”