Newton City Councilors
Susan Albright, President, Rick Lipof, Vice President, Alison M. Leary, Councilor-at-Large, Ward 1, Maria Scibelli Greenberg, Ward Councilor, Ward 1, Tarik Lucas, Councilor-at-Large, Ward 2, Emily Norton, Ward Councilor, Ward 2, Andrea W. Kelley, Councilor-at-Large, Ward 3, Pamela Wright, Councilor-at-Large, Ward 3, Julia Malakie, Ward Councilor, Ward 3, Joshua Krintzman, Councilor-at-Large, Ward 4, Christopher Markiewicz, Ward Councilor, Ward 4, Deb Crossley, Councilor-at-Large, Ward 5, Andreae Downs, Councilor-at-Large, Ward 5, Bill Humphrey, Ward Councilor, Ward 5, Alicia Bowman, Councilor-at-Large, Ward 6, Vicki Danberg, Councilor-at-Large, Ward 6, Brenda Noel, Ward Councilor, Ward 6, Marc C. Laredo, Councilor-at-Large, Ward 7, Holly Ryan, Ward Councilor, Ward 8
Marcia Cooper, President of Green Newton
Monday, June 05, 2023 (Link to PDF)
Dear Chair Barrett and members of the MA Senate TUE Committee,
I am writing on behalf of the nonprofit environmental group Green Newton, to urge your support for H.3137/SD.2603 An Act relative to intervenors and utility work, known as the Empowering Municipal Voices bill. In Newton, there are on average three grade-one leaks per week! That’s in addition to hundreds of other dangerous gas leaks in our community!
Here’s how this bill removes obstacles to resolving our gas leak safety issues:
1. Municipalities must make decisions about roadwork, but can’t get basic information about the condition of the gas system. This bill gives municipalities the authority to require basic information from gas companies regarding:
• the condition of the gas infrastructure,
• the leaks on the system,
• why pipes are being replaced rather than repaired and the comparative costs,
• why significant leaks are not being repaired in a timely fashion,
• the purpose of gas work to be performed, and
• potentially hazardous conditions.
2. Municipalities have no voice in decisions that are made about the gas system under their streets by the Department of Public Utilities. This bill would empower municipal voices in DPU proceedings.
3. Gas leaks continue to undermine our municipal efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to meet state mandated climate goals.
4. This bill grants municipalities the right to compensation for damage to trees and other property due to gas leaks or gas construction activity.
5. Municipalities want significant environmental impact leaks to be repaired to protect trees, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to prevent lost gas that customers pay for – but we have little or no information about the reliability of the repairs.
6. Currently, there is a lack of transparency about the risk of fire and explosions because of co-location of high voltage lines and high-volume leaks.
This bill would allow municipalities to act immediately by simply allowing them to require more information from the gas companies. I urge you to report the bill out favorably without delay.
Sincerely, Marcia Cooper, President of Green Newton
To the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, June 6, 2023
I am writing to urge your support for the Municipal Voices Bill, H.3137/SD.2603.
Since September, 2022, I have worked in a concerted manner with my fellow Newton ratepayers to get answers from our gas company, National Grid, to why they are prioritizing the least dangerous and polluting pipelines for costly ratepayer-funded replacement, instead of repairing the most risky and wasteful pipelines, by using less costly, durable non-disruptive (trenchless) advanced leak repair techniques.
Not only haven’t answers been forthcoming since last fall; what answers we have gotten in Newton City Council Public Facilities Committee meetings have been manifestly incorrect. For example, we were told that National Grid does not use advanced leak repair (in this case, lining) for pipes smaller than 16 inches in diameter; but public records show that they did just that kind of repair, on a smaller diameter pipe, in 2021. National Grid also knows that advanced leak repair can be far less costly, safe and durable, on leak prone pipes as small as 4 inches in diameter, which cover an enormous percentage of the Commonwealth’s leak prone gas pipe inventory.
Municipal officials need to have the authority to push back against the stonewalling and misinformation by the gas company that prevents our communities from moving forward expeditiously on our transition to clean energy and the post-combustion economy. H.3137/SD.2603, the Empowering Municipal Voices Bill, will provide that essential agency which cities and towns deserve. Our municipal officials and public works staff must make decisions every day on connected issues like street paving, water works, and other coordinated infrastructure activities. This bill will allow our municipalities to better manage their part of our co-located infrastructure and accelerate our planning and action to get off gas and on to a clean, sustainable and reliable heating sector.