According to data provided by natural gas suppliers, heating oil costs almost twice the price of natural gas. Natural gas suppliers assert that, in addition to saving money, you can help the environment by converting to gas. They advertise that the switch to natural gas will reduce CO2 emissions by 27%. What they don’t show you is the contribution to global warming natural gas distribution has on the environment. Natural gas leaks have a big impact in the form of methane released. The primary component of natural gas is methane (95%).
Measuring the Environmental Impact of Natural Gas Leaks
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Google Earth Outreach and researchers at Colorado State University (CSU) recently developed a new method to locate and estimate the climate impact of methane leaks. Utility companies monitor their distribution piping systems for methane leaks but their main goal for doing this is safety. The goal of EDF and Google Earth Outreach’s program is to map the location and measure the climate impact of a leak. In order to accomplish this, Google’s data mapping vehicles were outfitted with new mobile sensors, which detect methane. The methane analyzers used in these vehicles are accurate to concentrations of 0.02ppm. EDF and CSU carefully select survey areas to ensure that a representative sample of a city’s local distribution system is charted. The study areas traveled by these vehicles are double checked to ensure accuracy and confirm the persistence of elevated methane readings.
Boston is one of the nation’s original major cities and more than half of the gas pipelines are older than 50 years. Cast iron and other leak prone materials make up nearly 45% of the piping system. Readings found during the EDF survey showed an average of one leak for every mile that was driven. Compared to Burlington Vermont, which is a smaller system and more recently built, the average leak rate was one for every 10 miles driven. Why should you be concerned about Methane releases? Methane emissions create about 25% of the manmade global warming we are dealing with today. It is also devastating to the environment because it is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide in absorbing heat. The Google and EDF team have mapped more than 20,000 leaks across Massachusetts with the oldest being reported near Fenway Park in 1985. Surprisingly, gas suppliers have little incentive to fix leaks, because the cost of lost gas is passed on to customers. Unless a leak is potentially explosive, utilities are not mandated to repair a leak.
Massachusetts utility companies reported on the location of natural gas leaks for the first time in 2015. The data from Columbia Gas, Eversource, and National Grid was compiled by the Home Energy Efficiency Team to create maps of the leaks in each Massachusetts city or town. You can search these maps to see if your home, school or business has any local gas leaks.
The Bottom Line
Natural gas suppliers agree that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an important step in preserving the environment. For the climate equation both CO2 and methane emissions matter. Unfortunately, gas suppliers don’t take credit for their part in producing greenhouse gases. Safeguarding our planet isn’t just about lowering your carbon footprint. It’s about understanding the causes of global warming. A methane leak, which includes the entire natural gas lifecycle from fracking to combustion, is part of the equation. According to a Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) report, over $3 million dollars of a gas ratepayers’ money is wasted in the cities of Somerville and Cambridge. This lost natural gas (over 780 leaks), does more harm to the climate than all the cars driven in those two cities, and damaged or killed more than 225 city trees. Methane also contributes to the growing global background concentration of tropospheric ozone (O3), an air pollutant associated with premature mortality. By making this information more easily available, gas companies, the public and government officials can better tackle the problem of how to fix leaks and infrastructure more rapidly and more permanently.
"Far, far exceeded my expectations for what could have been a messy and smelly job."
"All at Comm Tank made a very stressful situation for us more than manageable. The men who came to do the work were always on time, extremely polite, and hardworking."
"In 34 minutes they achieved the removal without doing any cutting inside my home! Seeing is believing, which is why I sent you, today, the photos taken of their remarkable effort."
"Recently we hired your company Comm Tank to remove an underground oil storage tank buried in our front yard for many years. We also asked you to install a new aboveground oil storage tank next to our house."
William J. Lewis.
"They left the area cleaner than they found it. They were very friendly and fully explained how the tank was to be cut and removed."
"I would recommend Commtank to anyone who needs an oil tank removed. The price for such great service was very reasonable. Truly a good experience for me and my family."
"In the 40 years that I have lived in my house I have never had anyone do so much work, rip up so much sod yet leave everything in such a clean, neat and apparently undisturbed state."
"I want to thank you all for your excellent customer service and for going above and beyond the call of duty, to get my leaky oil tank problem resolved in time to sell my father's house."
"Paul’s recommendation along with the comfort level I felt dealing with your team made my decision to choose CommTank and easy one. Should I ever hear of anyone in need of a new oil tank I would recommend CommTank without hesitation."
"We have used CommTank now for inspections and service for the last two years. We have found the CommTank team nothing less than professional, knowledgeable and reliable."
"I do mean all of them…you could be proud of them and know that they represent your company in a very professional manner. In today’s world, you very rarely see this."
Billl and Barbara Clough.
"The project was on time, under budget, and everyone connected with the project was very easy to work with, both people on-site and in the office. "
Town of Southborough, Ma
"I want to thank you for the excellent work you and your crew have done at my station."
"I am emailing you with this word of “Thanks” to Comm Tank for one of the most professional companies I have used in quite sometime."
"When I called for an estimate, Margie was very informative and one of the reasons I chose CommTank to do the work."
Jack E. Meyer, M.D..
"I had an oil tank removed yesterday, and the whole operation could not have gone more smoothly."
"What could have been a stressful situation actually went smoothly without any issues or surprises. I would recommend CommTank in a heart beat to anyone in need of their services."
Scott E. Lechter.
"There were many steps throughout the process and at every step I was very well informed. The scheduling, coordination and communication was simply outstanding."
"I want to thank you for your work in the oil tank removal at my mother’s house in Walpole."
"Except for the oil smell for a while, you really couldn't tell that the work had been done; EVERYTHING was neat & tidy and cleaned up both inside and out."
"Thanks for your help and the customer service that CommTank provided."
North Reading, Ma
"Your employees did a nice job and were a credit to your company in their professional work and attitude."
"Thank you for doing a very nice job!"
Prides Crossing, MA
"Your crew just left my site and they are wonderful, clean, great, and nice!"
"I would certainly recommend your company."
"These two excellent employees came early, at 7:15 a.m. Which is very appreciated by us, clients that have to leave for our jobs."
"They patched the holes left from removing the fill and vent lines like pros - I did not expect this level of service."
"Kim and I are very happy to have found you!"
"We want to tank your for a job well done while removing the underground oil tank."
"I wanted to thank you for a great job on the installation of the new fuel dispenser."
"Thank you for your donation of 200+ gallons of fuel through your CommTank Cares Program to St. Clement Parish Schools. Your generosity is certainly a help to our schools and parish."
Reverend Paulo Cumin.
"just want to express my appreciation for the excellent service that was provide to me in the removing of our 1,000 gallon underground oil tank."
"What I think I’ll never forget was how clean the basement was after the two men had removed the contaminated soil from our house. It had never looked like that!"
"Early this month your company removed my almost 40-year-old tank from my basement and installed a Roth Tank. I was extremely pleased with the results and with the crew that did the work."
"It was neat and clean and they left the area spotless. The gentleman who came back to inspect the job was kind and courteous."
"The City is extremely grateful to CommTank for its assistance in this cleanup. We believe we made a very wise choice in the selection of CommTank. Please feel free to use me as a reference for your team's pursuit of other environmental work."
Thomas G. Ambrosino.
"She called to brag about how professional the service was, and how clean and precise the installation was."
"We really appreciate the responsiveness to what was a worrying situation and the two men who performed the work were true professionals."
"This company is the best. The price was very reasonable, better than anyone else I contacted, about $300.00 less,"
"I had my oil tank and boiler removed from my home. Comm Tank showed up on time and finished the job quickly and neatly."
"I want to thank CommTank for the wonderful job that your crew did yesterday while removing and installing my oil tank."
"Thanks so much for getting your guys out here so quickly to take care of the issue. While they could not tell exactly what caused the seepage, they ended up replacing the red connector with the fill gauge to be safe."
"There were two crews on separate days that did a great job and were very knowledgeable about their job and company."
"As for me the customer, I am very pleased on the workmanship that was performed, and I would recommend ComTank to anyone that needs a new tank."
"Your workers were out at my house in Wayland last week and did a fantastic job removing the oil tank from my basement."
"The quality of their craftsmanship is buzzworthy, the work surpassed my expectations."
"They showed up on time, were extraordinarily efficient and neat, provided a comprehensive removal, and were very courteous in all our dealings."
John P Senko.
"You and your entire on-site crew, including Santiago and Carlos, all have been first-rate and first-class."
"Thank you for your competence and professionalism, your cheerful and hard-working staff, your expertise with regulations/compliance issues, and for referring us to Tommasino & Tommasino in Boston."
Richard and Kristen Henshaw.
"Please note that this appreciation comes from a person managing construction for clients for some forty years."
"Excellent work so far. We wish these guys were on all three Boston projects."
Peachtree Corners, GA
"He will refer us to anyone and will definitely be using our services again."
"Please let the crew know that I really appreciate the hard work and professionalism."
"I spoke to Cindy the other day and reiterated to her about how happy we were with our experience."
"The thorough explanation of what was to be done was excellent."
"During this past summer I had an underground oil tank removed and replaced with an indoor Roth oil tank, and was exceptionally pleased with the service."
"In my opinion they were very professional and courteous."
Mary Louise Thrower.
"Thanks again to you and your team for the high level of workmanship and customer performance you provided."
"Your company has been most professional, timely, and informative!"
"This was our first experience with your company and we were very pleased from start to finish."
"Your crew were great to work with and did a great job, although very hot out there, they continued on with no complaints."
"All of our clients are more than satisfied with the quality of CommTanks installations and LEO is as well."
"It was a pleasure having them work at my house."
"They quickly went to work and solved the problem. As worried as I was, Luis made me feel that everything was going to be ok. Luis was always there no matter how many times I called."
Jeffery J. Graham.
New Bedford, MA
"We were so pleased with the removal of the old furnace."
"They tore down part of a wall, shoveled, removed my old tank and replaced it with a new tank, also gave me some oil."
"They were courteous and professional, timely and completed everything as well as anyone could have asked."
"I have dealt with contractors before and was very impressed with your crew."
"I would hope I would never have to have a UST removed again, but if I did, you would be the first people I would call."
"They left the basement much cleaner than when they started the job."
"Kevin's response and his team’s effort to help contain and cleanup a small spill were some of the best I have seen in my 40+ years in the petroleum industry."
"The technicians were outstanding. We needed 3 tanks removed from our basement."
"Kevin Hoag and Nelson were outstanding, they showed at 8:00 AM sharp, they were very professional, explaining all steps, very polite, their work was perfect."
"CommTank just finished the UST removal job and the customer is absolutely delighted."
"Amazed that this level of customer service still exists in this day and age!!"
Jamaica Plain, Ma
"Great job, completed on time, very aware of the Safety of our tenants."
Deborah M. McClory.
"Came when they said and did what they said quicker than I thought and left the cellar clean all at a reasonable price."
"I also commend Luis Diaz on his pleasant, informative phone manner when we first spoke and at the time of the site exploration. His handing of the situation convinced me to go with CommTank."
Newton Centre, Ma
"The professionalism and courtesy with which you and your crew handled this situation far exceeded my expectations and that of my customer."
"I will recommend your company to my colleagues and clients."
"From the moment I contacted Comm Tank, it was nothing but a positive experience."