Sept. 28 Forum in Bedford to Focus on Impact of Jet Emissions

September 19, 2023

The impact of the proposed massive hangar development at Hanscom Field near Hartwell Road will be the focus of a community forum from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28 in the Reed Room of Town Hall.

The program, titled “Climate Impacts of Private Jet Expansion at Hanscom or Anywhere,” will be a hybrid event, with access available through Zoom. Bedford TV plans to record the program for later broadcast. Plans call for a question-and-answer period. Reservations are requested, through https://www.mothersoutfront.org/events/bedford-ma-20230928/.

Several months ago, the Massachusetts Port Authority awarded a contract to two limited liability companies for construction of more than 400,000 square feet of hangar space, as well as rehabilitation of the so-called Navy Hangar, resulting in another 86,000 square feet for aircraft storage. 

The project was assessed under provisions of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, which requires a detailed environmental impact report. Ken Schwartz, a senior vice president with VHB who has been a spokesman for the developers, said last week in an email, “There is no definitive schedule for filing the draft EIR. We are working on the analysis as required in the MEPA certificate.”

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Live speakers at the Sept. 28 community forum will represent contrasting approaches.

Neil Rasmussen, president of Concord-based Save Our Heritage, is the driver behind a new statewide coalition of environmental and civic organizations called Stop Private Jet Expansion at Hanscom and Everywhere. 

The coalition’s position is new hangars will result in expansion of private jet traffic in the region that benefits few, but will contribute greenhouse gases devastating to efforts to thwart climate change. The group is spearheading a petition drive calling on Gov. Maura Healey to “use the full measure of your powers to stop Massport’s expansion plans for private luxury jet capacity at Hanscom Field.”

Emily Mitchell, the Select Board’s representative on the Hanscom Field Advisory Commission, has taken the position that as an elected official, she needs to be able to negotiate a wide range of issues besides emissions that will directly impact Bedford, ranging from ground traffic and groundwater quality to wildlife protection and fuel storage.

Stop Private Jet Expansion has more than 40 organizational members, including several from Bedford. State Sen. Mike Barrett of Lexington was the first to home in on the atmospheric impact of increased jet activity. But no arms of local government, in Bedford or elsewhere, have signed on.                        

Bill McKibben, the long-time environmental writer and activist, will also address the group via Zoom. McKibben, a Lexington High School graduate, is the founder of Third Act, a national advocacy organization for people at least age 60. The Bedford Chapter of Third Act, which includes McKibben’s mother, is one of the sponsors of the community forum.

Other sponsors are Bedford Mothers Out Front, the League of Women Voters of Bedford, and the town Energy and Sustainability Committee.

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