City Council Approves O’Malley’s Ordinance to Eliminate Gas Leaks

There are thousands of gas leaks in Boston. Thousands. The leaks are obviously dangerous, and also consumers pay more due to millions worth of gas escaping into the air. An ordinance passed by the Boston City Council and authored by Jamaica Plain’s City Councilor Matt O’Malley is aimed at eliminating natural gas leaks and improve the leak repair system.

The council approved the ordinance 12-1 at its Wednesday meeting and now Mayor Martin J. Walsh has to sign it to become law.

“I am thrilled at the passage of the Gas Leaks ordinance,” said O’Malley, who serves as the chair of the City Council’s Committee on Environment & Sustainability. “Thanks to the hard work and commitment of a passionate group of environmental allies, Boston now has a better way to address harmful gas leaks which are in virtually every Boston neighborhood. It’s more important than ever for the city’s residents to work together to reverse the effects of climate change and protect our city, our country and our planet for generations to come.”

The ordinance creates a new mechanism for the city to deal with gas leaks and will improve the management of Boston’s infrastructure by coordinating maintenance, repair, upgrades, replacement with gas companies by notifying the gas company that the street is open.

It will also allow the city to withhold permits for non-compliance; allow utility companies to survey the open area for natural gas leaks and allow them to repair or replace any aging, leak-prone or natural gas infrastructure in public ways; reduce the cost of gas for consumers while ensuring the further safety and health of people as gas leaks have been proven dangerous to people and the environment. The ordinance also gives the city the authority to recoup costs from utility companies for the destruction of trees and shrubbery, which often happens from gas leaks.

Statistically speaking, the amount of leaks and the amount of money that just goes into the air and environment is staggering. While the estimated number of natural gas leaks varies, Clean Water Action estimates there are close to 4,400 in Boston. A 2015 Harvard-led study estimated that each year “15 billion cubic feet of natural gas, worth some $90 million escapes the Boston region’s delivery system.” And that cost is then passed onto the consumer. And if you’re wondering, that’s enough gas to heat as many as 200,000 homes.

O’Malley has worked on the ordinance for two years after being approached by a group of residents called Mothers Out Front, who are working to raise awareness of gas leaks and proposed potential solutions in partnership with groups including Clean Water Action, the Sierra Club, Conservation Law Foundation, Boston Climate Action Network and HEET.

  • Blinkie

    Matt O’Malley should be Mayor, not that boob we have now.

    • Quanita

      Takes one to know one.

  • Malena

    Blinkie, why are you starting the conversation by saying something unkind? If you have direct criticism about the mayor, then say it directly, honestly and without insult. For the record, I don’t work for the mayor or the city. I have never met him. However, given the recent national elections and even some of the discussion in this forum, I’m always surprised (I guess because I don’t do Twitter or Facebook) by the tone that comes up for no apparent reason. These forums are for honest, informative discussions among neighbors.

    My comment is that I’m appalled that there are so many gas leaks and wonder why the Gas Companies (in the plural since I’m old enough to remember several that have come and gone) are not the ones responsible for this situation.

    • Blinkie

      And here’s my comment, troll: At least for now, I still have the right in this country to express my opinion about our elected leaders, and I shall continue to do so, despite your lame & pathetic do-gooder blathering. If you’re offended by that, or somehow that wounds you, then you need to grow a thicker skin. If you’re not Marty Walsh, MYOB.
      Troll someone else; I’m not impressed.

      • Quanita

        Project much?

        • RobertJ

          Troll much?

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