Category: Gas Leaks

ACTION ALERT (updated 2/7)! Push back against fossil fuel interests nationally by supporting climate action on the state level!

This is a CRUCIAL time for Massachusetts legislation.

Though we have passed the deadline for co-sponsoring House bills, legislators can sign on to Senate bills up until the time of hearing. Ask your legislators to sign on to the Senate bills endorsed by CAN NOW. 

 

 
Instructions to do this important climate action in four steps:

  1.  Find  the contact information for your legislators.

Simply enter your zip code. 

                Click HERE  https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator

2. Send a letter, including the list of the bills CAN endorses. Letters are always better than emails. Add a personal note.

 

   Click HERE for list of 2017-2018 Bills Endorsed by Climate Action Now, Western MA

Click HERE for sample letter to your representative or senator about these climate action bills

Send to [your representative’s name]
24 Beacon St
Boston, MA, 02133

3. Send an email.  

 Copy and paste the following section for your email.  

 

Use this subject line:  Urgent  – Need your co-sponsorship on these climate bills this week!
 

Dear Representative [PUT YOUR REP NAME HERE] 


Thank you very much for your past support for climate action. Climate change is accelerating faster than ever expected and our window to act is rapidly closing. With back-stepping by the federal government, it is all the more urgent that states like ours take definitive leadership on making the transition to clean, renewable energy and decreasing fossil fuel emissions. We need you to help mobilize the Massachusetts legislature to meet these challenges. I ask you to act swiftly to co-sponsor the climate bills in this package.

I ask that you personally take a leadership role in putting climate related issues front and center. I ask you to act swiftly to co-sponsor the climate bills in this package. Getting the whole package enacted will require legislators to not only co-sponsor the bills but actively work to get them enacted.  Climate Action Now will be rating legislators this session to allow constituents to see how strongly their legislators support the bills in our legislative package. As my legislator, I hope you will be one of those who will get an A+.
Thank you. 

[PUT YOUR NAME AND TOWN HERE] 

Climate Action Now, WM

 

 4.  Make a phone call to follow up on your letter and email. 

 

BONUS:  Amplify! Personally ask a friend in another part of the state to do this. Forward this page to them.  State action on climate is all-important now.

Thank you for TAKING ACTION!   Together, we are unstoppable.

************************************************************************************************

For a deeper dive into these bills, you can read the text   at https://malegislature.gov/Bills

We need to call our representatives early and often starting NOW, to let them know that climate must be a top priority.

 

Climate Action combined with Joy – this is how we do it

Every time you see one of these flags,you are looking at a spot where methane is being wasted, and also speeding up climate change. Join us on Saturday when we fan out all over Northampton to mark these leaks, after the INTERdependence Day Parade! This is going to be a beautiful, community-building Local Climate Action. Gas companies want their new pipelines even as they are allowing old pipes to waste. Fix those leaks! Sat, Jul 2 at 1 pm downtown Northampton.gasleakFlag

Parade, performance, and CLIMATE ACTION!  The action after the celebration:  spread around Northampton tagging the gas leaks. Build awareness about the cost to the planet of leaking methane, which is a greenhouse gas 20 time more potent than co2. We want the gas companies to fix their leaks before they try to build new pipelines!

This is going to be a great day of celebration and positive, meaningful action. Perfect for the family!

2016July2Noho

More info on leaks here:  http://www.mothersoutfront.org/we_re_working_to_fix_gas_leaks

 

Climate Justice a Spotlight on Springfield TV

By Dineen O’Rourke

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.07.34 AM

In Springfield, environmental racism has been threatening one of humanity’s basic rights for years – the right to breathe. 1 in 5 people in the city have asthma, a rate that sharply increases for children and people of color.1 “We have to stop taking the air we breathe for granted,” shared Michaelann Bewsee, founder and organizer of Arise for Social Justice.

To highlight this issue, the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition (SCJC) recently organized a panel filmed live on Focus Springfield Community TV, bringing together representatives of local and statewide organizations working towards environmental and climate justice. The panel, hosted by Springfield Ward 1 City Councilor Adam Gomez, featured Michaelann Bewsee of Arise, as well as Claire Miller, community organizer at Toxics Action Center, Ivette Hernandez from Keep Springfield Beautiful, and Jesse Lederman, spokesperson for Stop Toxic Incineration Springfield.

Watch the stream of the entire panel discussion here.

Over 20% of children in Springfield have asthma, which is more than double the statewide rate of childhood asthma, and 50% higher than the national average. This rate almost triples for African American and Latino children in Springfield.1 This is what environmental racism looks like.

Ivette Hernandez spoke of being a single mother of three children while living in the North End, one of the most low-income areas of the city. One of her children has chronic asthma, which has caused upwards of 15 school absences a year. “The lack of accountability and action from our city’s government on these issues is unacceptable,” she said, adding that low-income communities like the North End are treated as “less than human.”

With over 500 known gas leaks in the city and a proposal to build a new toxic biomass incinerator, Springfield is heading in the wrong direction of fixing this asthma emergency, even though these organizations have been highlighting problems like this for years. Two years ago we marched to the Springfield City Hall and witnessed the unanimous vote to pass the Climate Action Resolution developed by the SCJC. The determined hope was palpable in the air of the courtroom. From the Springfield high school students who spoke about climate change, to the parents of children with asthma, and from religious leaders to community organizers, everyone had a pertinent story to share about why climate justice is the necessary path for Springfield.

But now, over two years later, Mayor Domenic Sarno still has not implemented the Climate Action Plan that his government unanimously passed. The SCJC has increased their pressure by demanding a Climate Justice Plan, one that would employ Springfield residents to alleviate the city’s unemployment issues. “We don’t want a climate change plan. We want a climate justice plan,” Michaelann voiced on the panel.

There’s a critical need for a framework of race and class politics when discussing sustainability and climate action. Without these frameworks, the constant push for renewable energy and electric vehicles from wealthy environmentalists becomes isolating and polarizing for those unable to afford such solutions. We are not going to buy ourselves out of climate change; our emotional and societal dependence on consumerism is part of the very problem that laid the groundwork for climate change. The changes we require come from collective action and dedicated grassroots organizing. We are not free until everyone is free.

Climate Action Now is one of the co-founding organizations of the SCJC. Our work has also included organizing against the Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct, a pipeline that would have carried gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, from Pennsylvania through New England. After a two-year-long grassroots movement, with a wide array of strategies, Kinder Morgan withdrew their pipeline application from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and our struggle became a success.

Yet even with this recent victory, fracked gas and methane will continue to be a threat in our region – our work is not over. Springfield is now organizing against a dangerous amount of methane leaks in the city’s gas heating system, with over 500 discovered in the city in one year alone. “These streets can explode at any given time,” remarked Jesse Lederman. “It’s unacceptable.”

Not only does this gas leak into the atmosphere, rapidly accelerating climate change and increasing the risk of asthma and neurotoxin disorders, it also is an economic loss that falls on the backs of electric ratepayers in the city. Home Energy Efficiency Team estimated that in 2014 alone, this escaped gas accumulated to a loss of $2.3 million. Northampton is facing almost 100 known gas leaks, believed to be have cost ratepayers $600,000 in 2014. The SCJC is currently awaiting a response from a letter sent to Colombia Gas, the city’s electric utility company, requesting a meeting to discuss this issue. You can sign this petition to demand Colombia fix these leaks immediately. “Yes, fixing the leaks can be costly,” remarked Ivette Hernandez. “But we have a lot of people here looking for jobs,” echoing the interconnected justice aspect of the Climate Justice Plan.

As City Councilor Adam Gomez aptly stated to close the panel, “creating real change in our community will begin with real unity.” In a world rapidly warming world with rising seas and increased pollution, hope can understandably be a difficult emotion to turn to. Our hope for a better world becomes more actualized when we come together and take collective action.Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 2.40.05 PM

Get involved with the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition!

What: SCJC Monthly Meeting
When: Wednesday, June 8, 6pm
Where: Arise for Social Justice office, Springfield
RSVP: (413) 734-4948

This meeting is open to all interested in being apart of the campaign to make Springfield a most just, sustainable, and healthy place for all. Whether you were apart of the founding of the coalition or you know little about climate change, all are welcome to learn about the work of this inspiring coalition.

 

Dineen O’Rourke is a student at Hampshire College and an organizer with Climate Action Now. Follow her on Twitter: @dineenorourke.

 

References

  1. Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition

June 2: Northampton and Springfield Gas Leak Community Forums

Stop the Gas Leaks Campaign Hosts Community Forums in Springfield and Northampton

Date: Thursday, June 2

5 pm in Springfield
Trinity Church, 361 Summer Ave.

7:30 pm in Northampton
Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence, 220 Main St.

With Ania Camargo: Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET MA) Board of Directors and Mothers Out Front member. Ania is a leader in the campaign to repair gas leaks in the Greater Boston area.
“Natural gas leaks are potentially explosive, harm the health of humans and trees, and the major component, methane, is a potent contributor to global warming,” said Dr. Marty Nathan. “Gas distributors have complained about lack of natural gas supply… Yet for decades old, leaky pipes have been wasting nearly 3% of what is delivered. And that lost gas has been paid for by customers.”
The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition (SCJC) & Arise for Social Justice who are working together to get the 500+ gas leaks in Springfield plugged, will host the Springfield event. With over ninety gas leaks in Northampton the neighborhood group TwoDegrees, Climate Action Now, Mothers Out Front and the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence Climate Action Group will host the Northampton forum.

The campaign is working directly with Columbia Gas CEO Stephen Bryant, calling for real time information on the volume of gas lost, the cost to rate payers and for a plan by Columbia Gas to fix the leaks. All are encouraged to attend the Springfield City Council Meeting on Monday June 6th at 7 PM (36 Court Street) to support passage of a resolution calling for legislation against gas leaks.

For Springfield information, contact Jesse Lederman, Environmental Organizer at ARISE, at 413-351-6785. For Northampton, contact Dr. Marty Nathan at 413-531-9915.

Northampton Gas Leaks Forums PDF

 

Lessons from California gas disaster; Bring them Home to Western MA

Marty Nathan, MD: Lessons from California gas disaster

By MARTY NATHAN, MD

A year and a half ago I wrote about the gas leak at my house that caused the fire department to evacuate the neighborhood. While on vacation, mice chewed through the line connecting a propane tank to our backyard grill. Luckily, our smart 13-year-old neighbor who was caring for our backyard chickens in our absence smelled the gas and told her mom, who called the alarm.

And even more fortunately, the leak was small, no one lit a match and the crisis passed within an hour.

Not so lucky for the folks of Porter Ranch, California, an upscale suburb of Los Angeles. A little over two weeks ago the California Secretary of State joined his neighbors in leaving his home there in order to protect himself, his wife and three small children from the toxic effects of the methane leak from the nearby huge Aliso Canyon underground storage facility. Massive emissions of methane were pouring into the air from where it is stored under high pressure in an old well 3,000 feet underground. The methane (the major component of natural gas) was delivered by pipeline mostly from West Texas.

It created a plume a mile high and several miles long from Oct. 23, 2015, until it was “temporarily” plugged Friday. It continued for three and a half months because of the depth of the storage, the pressure and complexity of the storage system and, well, because neither Southern Cal Gas nor any other fossil fuel company has bothered to make a plan for such a disaster. Sound familiar?

It does to quite a few environmental experts. Famed lawyer Erin Brockovich has joined others in comparing it to the BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil blowout and spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Boston University Prof. Nathan Phillips says, “This is a contamination of atmosphere rather than ocean waters. It is more of a respiratory version of (Deepwater Horizon).”

Aliso Canyon spewed over 90,000 tons of methane into the atmosphere. The mercaptan in it has made people sick, forcing the evacuation of over 2,000 people from the area and closing two local schools. Of course the gas is volatile, and devastating fires and explosions have been possible. Since our atmosphere has no boundaries, of course this is not just a local disaster. Methane is a greenhouse gas, 80 times as powerful as carbon dioxide. What was emitted is equal to eight million tons of carbon dioxide, a quarter of the greenhouse gas cuts that California’s ambitious global warming mitigation plan is set to eliminate.

It is a big hit to the climate, something to be mourned on behalf of the future of those living on our planet.

But let us learn the Aliso Canyon lesson here, in Massachusetts.

Natural gas, methane, is not a safe or appropriate “bridge fuel” to a future of renewable energy. Though burning the final product is less polluting than burning coal, the leaks all the way along the production and delivery system — the worst example being Aliso Canyon — wipe out any benefit that the “cleaner burning” bestows.

And leaks are everywhere. There will be planned releases at the compressor stations along the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline in western Massachusetts. In Boston, the Environmental Defense Fund earlier found a leak approximately every mile traversed by National Grid’s often 50-year-old pipes. Aliso Canyon calls us to do a few things:

  • Stop the gas leaks at wells, storage tanks and pipes. In Massachusetts the Natural Gas Leak law must be implemented throughout the state.
  • Prevent the building of any new natural gas infrastructure. Yes, I mean the Northeast Energy Direct and the West Roxbury Lateral Pipelines, which are needed not for Massachusetts consumers but instead for natural gas profit through export. Join the march “Taking Steps to a Renewable Future” from March 17 to 20 from Windsor to Northfield between proposed NED stations.
  • Use due diligence to conserve and make the transition to renewable energy. Call your legislators and ask them toensure the elimination of the cap on net metering of solar energy to support that transition from dangerous, climate-killing fossil fuels.

Marty Nathan, MD, lives in Northampton and is a physician at Baystate Brightwood and a member of Climate Action NOW.   This op-ed was published in the Hampshire daily Gazette Thursday, February 18, 2016