Hey, there! Log in / Register

Hyde Park, Cambridge homeowners say natural gas is neither clean nor good for the environment, sue Eversource for saying it is

A Hyde Park homeowner and a Cambridge resident last week filed what they hope will be a class-action suit against Eversource for what they charge is constant false advertising and marketing about the supposed environmental and health benefits of natural gas, claims they say are belied by recent scientific studies and even the company's own statements, even if buried away in footnotes in documents most people will never read.

In their suit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Majida Ortiz of Hyde Park and Urszula Masny-Latos of Cambridge, said they would have drastically reduced the use of their gas stoves if they had known how much benzene and other possibly toxic chemicals can be emitted by gas stoves, even when not in use and if they had known about the harmful greenhouse effects of the methane that is the main component of natural gas - it is, they charge, a far, far worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Eversource's claims that natural gas is "clean, safe and good ... for your family" are false. These also constitution impermissible "non-toxic" claims given that Eversource's natural gas emits harmful chemicals into the homes and buildings of its residential gas customers creating potentially dangerous levels of indoor air pollution.

The company also tries to mislead consumers that gas appliances, furnaces and water heaters are not only clean, but more efficient than competing electric devices, when, in fact, the opposite is true. The suit notes that Massachusetts has been trying to shift homes from gas use to electricity. Boston has also been trying to get new developments that use electric heating and ovens.

The suit charges the company's ongoing "false and misleading" statements in everything from ads to inserts in its monthly bills violates the section of the Massachusetts consumer-protection law that bars such statements

Eversource's claimed commitment in its marketing, starting in or before 2021 to the present that "we're committed to having carbon-neutral operations by 2030" is deceptive because Defendant has no ability or intentions to make its "operations" "carbon-neutral" as those terms are reasonably defined, by 2030.

"By its "operations" Eversource narrowly means only its own buildings, vehicles and pipelines. ... This excludes a vast percentage of greenouse gas emissions attributable to its actual operaitons, including: the gas production processing and distribution infrastructure from which it obtains the gas it sells to consumers; and the downstream methan emissions from its customers' usage, including post-meter leakage.

But Eversource failed to clearly disclose this formidable limitation in its marketing and thus creates the false impression for its consumers that they are contributing to a low-carbon future by purchasing its natural gas.

They add Eversource has claimed it would make up for any carbon-base emissions, for example, from its notoriously leaky pipes in the Boston area, by purchasing "carbon offsets" from other companies that had, in fact, reduced their carbon emissions, yet the company has ever actually paid for any such offsets.

The suit says the value of those alleged offsets, going back four years and continuing into the future, would provide a good base on which to remunerate Eversource customers in Massachusetts in general, and owners of gas stoves in particular.

Eversource has until Sept. 30 to answer the suit.

Complete complaint (1.7M PDF).

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 


Ad:


Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

…. Eversource knew.

up
28

Fo they think coal and oil are cleaner fossil fuels? Most “clean” electric power is created by burning coal and oil.

up
13

I didn't get into it in my story, but their complete complaint (conveniently linked at the bottom of that story) does not claim that oil and coal are cleaner fuels. Although the complaint was obviously written by lawyers, it's fairly easy reading, so you can skim it pretty easily to vet that for yourself, that what they are saying is that arguing that natural gas is some miracle clean energy is false, not that coal is better than natural gas.

up
30

First: nat gas is considered "cleaner" than oil or coal

Second: Most electricity is created from nat gas, not oil or coal. But your point is well taken that it's still primarily fossil fuels.

Third: A great deal of the remaining electricity is created from sources that produce no carbon emissions.

So systems that run on electricity use higher and higher shares of carbon free energy. An appliance running on fossil fuels would be entirety from carbon emitting sources.

up
10

By you, the gentle ratepayer.

up
24

Who do you think pays for all the peripheral costs of using gas? Not just ratepayers. Everybody pays those costs.

up
13

because nothing cooks like gas. Ask the Chinese restaurant owners how those electric woks are working out.

up
12

You must have an awfully big basement! Or did you clear out room in your garage by selling your Hummer?

up
22

in the room with us right now?

up
20

I got a cute little countertop induction unit for $25 (used) and it outperforms our largest gas burner, hands down. There's no contest. This is not the electric coil stove I grew up with—it's an entirely different beast.

Are you trying to die on the hill of "it's hard to make an electric wok, therefore gas is superior for everyone"?