Gas Leaks and Ghost Tree Tagging

Ghost Tree Stencils

Did you see one of these Ghost Tree signs on the sidewalk in Brookline?

The Problem with gas and trees

  • These signs and stencils mark the more than 400 sites in Brookline where a tree has been killed or damaged by underground natural gas leaks.
  • Arborists found that Brookline has lost over $1 million worth of trees to these leaks.
  • The methane gas in these leaks, is a potent contributor to climate change and human health impacts.
  • National Grid is responsible for the leaks, but they have no mandate or incentive to fix them unless there is a risk of explosion.
  • You are paying for the leaked natural gas. National Grid is permitted by law to charge you for the losses in its system.

What You Can Do

  • Call National Grid: 1-800-233-5325. It is good for National Grid to hear that the community knows they’re looking for big leaks, wants to know what’s happening, and expects results. In other words, the public is waiting and anxious to hear. What we need you to do:

    • Report any gas you smell and ask National Grid to check for leaking pipes.

    • Ask questions about Brookline leaks such as: How many big leaks has National Grid found so far? When will they be fixed?

    • Ask National Grid to prioritize fixing leaks in the root zones of trees. We have lost too many trees already in Brookline!

  • Sign up for action alerts, such as hearings, rallies, and testimony dates from Mothers Out Front:

  • Post photos taken during the tagging event to social media.

    Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @BrooklineMOF.

    Follow the hashtags #BrooklineGhostTrees and #FixBigGasLeaks. You can either go to our Facebook page and post to the page, or you can tag us @BrooklineMOF in the post as shown below.

    Facebook Sample Posts - Include a photo and address of the sick tree or the empty tree pit.
    Items in brackets [@name] have to be typed in manually; Facebook will auto-complete with the full name of the organization. We are asking National Grid to take action on the gas leak repair.

    We, with [@BrooklineMOF] want to know if you have seen one of these Ghost Tree signs on the sidewalk in Brookline? Go to to learn more. We need [@NationalGridUS] to #FixBigGasLeaks #BrooklineGhostTrees [@NationalGridUS @MothersOutFront @HEETMA @Brooklinema @frank.smizik @jeffrey.sanchez.3576 @ed.coppinger.7 @senatorcindycreem]

    Twitter Sample Posts - include a photo and address of the sick tree or the empty tree pit.
    We are asking @NationalGridUS to #FixBigGasLeaks in #Brookline MA to give all new and sick trees a chance. [@BrooklineMOF @MothersOutFront @HEETMA @Brooklinema]

  • Find out where gas leaks are located near your home.

  • Learn how to identify whether a tree has been damaged by natural gas.

  • Do not call your town officials. They cannot fix the leaks.
  • Join and follow Mothers Out Front, Gas Leaks Allies and others.

Background on the damaged trees and gas leaks in Brookline

  • The Town of Brookline sued National Grid for the loss of the trees that have been killed by gas leaks, a 10-year lawsuit that was recently settled for about a quarter of the value of lost trees.
  • Lost trees cost Brookline about $1000 each to replace, and until those small trees mature, they will not provide the shade, soil retention, CO2 absorption and beauty of those lost.
  • Many of the natural gas pipelines in Massachusetts are over 100 years old. Across the Commonwealth, there are over 15,000 leaks in the system, having a greater collective impact on the climate than all the cars we drive.
  • Other states, including Texas and Pennsylvania, that have passed laws requiring the gas companies to pay for the gas lost through leaks, have seen the leaks rapidly fixed.

"The climate movement’s biggest failure has been its inability to successfully make the case that natural gas is not a clean replacement for other fossil fuels."

Bill McKibben, in an article for Yale Environment 360

More Information

  • Mothers Out Front in MA includes fixing gas leaks in its top three priorities.
  • HEET is pioneering solutions by mapping the gas leaks and helping identify the highest volume leaks.
  • The Gas Leaks Allies pull together these and other groups to team up and work towards solutions.
  • Dr. Nathan Phillips, a plant physiologist at Boston University, has done extensive research on gas leaks and their impact on trees.
  • Bob Ackley is credited with bringing this issue into the spotlight.
  • Speaking for the Trees, a new volunteer led organization, is advocating for a green canopy in the greater Boston area.


Brookline Tree Appraisals, by street, 2016

Comments of Brookline Greenspace Alliance on proposed regulations establishing requirements for uniform gas leak classification.

May 12, 2018 at 9:30am - 11:30am
St Marks Square
100 Park St
Brookline, MA 02446
United States
Google map and directions
Kathleen Scanlon ·

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