Special thanks to Frank Farkas for this special report.
MIT’s Sloan School was the setting for a “Gas Summit” on October 3rd, officially titled, “Common Goals, Uncommon Partners: Seeking Solutions to Reduce Methane Emissions.” The conference was essentially a report on an ongoing collaboration between a coalition of environmental and environmental justice groups (including HEET, Clean Water Action, Mothers Out Front et al.) and both Eversource and Columbia Gas.
The conference takeaway and major surprise to those in the environmental community used to an adversarial relationship with the utilities, was that the coalition has gotten two large utilities to adopt the position that they share a common interest with the community in identifying and remedying all gas leaks emanating from their pipelines, and not just those with explosive potential.
Leveraged by recent state and municipal legislation that may force the companies to comply, the coalition partners seem to have convinced the two utilities of their responsibility for repairing their aging pipeline infrastructure so as to reduce methane emissions. What also appears to have motivated the companies to engage in the collaboration was the promise that, given the scientific/technical expertise the coalition brought to the table, the companies’ cooperation would accelerate the development of a cost effective method for pinpointing the source of Grade 3 gas leaks, something the utilities had previously considered pie in the sky.
These leaks, which are defined in state law as “non-hazardous to persons or property,” nevertheless pose a grave threat to the environment, as more recent state legislation reflects. Studies over the past several years have shown that Grade 3’s spew large amounts of heat-trapping and plant-destroying methane into the atmosphere and into the soil. The worst of these leaks are the “gushers,” and the first target of the collaboration, which on average constitute 7% of leaks but cause 50% of the greenhouse gas emissions.
The conference was videotaped and is archived at the following location:
(You may have to copy and paste the link into your browser in order to make the connection.)
Please set aside a chunk of time to watch the entire video. We think you’ll agree that it is well worth it.
Let us know, after you view the video, if you think this model of collaboration may have application to the Berkshires and if so, your interest in being involved in a group brainstorming how to put it to work locally.