Mothers Out Front Opposed to the Proposed Private Jet Expansion Project 

Submitted by Kay Aubrey for Mothers Out Front

As members of the Bedford Chapter of Mothers Out Front, a national organization of mothers and others working toward a livable climate and an equitable future for all children, we urge our fellow residents to oppose private jet expansion at Massport’s Hanscom Field Civil Airport or anywhere. Industry reports typically forecast 10 percent annual growth in the demand for private jets. Join us in the fight against the proposed private jet hangar expansion at Massport-owned Hanscom Field civil airport (not to be confused with the non-flying Hanscom Air Force Base, which is separate and distinct).

  • The proposed development would add 495,000 square feet of hangar space at the airport, enough to accommodate an additional 50-80 private luxury jets.  
  • To build this expansion, they will clear cut about 20 acres of trees and install 37 acres of pavement. If this development happens, it would be the largest single expansion in Hanscom Field’s history. 
  • It may be the largest private jet hangar expansion in the United States.

Mothers Out Front is opposed to this project because the ever-growing emissions from the jets will have a disastrous impact on our climate while serving the travel demands of only a small but very wealthy portion of the traveling public. Meanwhile, it will provide little benefit to the general public. 

This map from the Bedford DPW shows the delineation between Hanscom Field and Hanscom AFB. Courtesy photo

To the contrary, it would undermine our statewide efforts to be carbon neutral. For context: private jet emissions at Hanscom alone already cancel nearly 50 percent of the climate gains from all solar PV ever installed in Massachusetts. An expansion of any size would further erode our statewide efforts to combat climate change.

  • The plan includes the installation of a new “fuel farm” with the capacity to hold 80,000 gallons of jet fuel and 5,000 gallons of the leaded fuel used by propeller aircraft.  
  • The developers expect one or two truck deliveries a day (with 10,000 gallons of fuel per truck) via Route 4-225 and Hartwell Road, which will further increase traffic and pose danger to this neighborhood.

Developers North Airfield Ventures (hired by Massport) and Runway Realty Ventures are spearheading the airport expansion. During the Feb. 20 Hanscom Field Advisory Commission (HFAC) meeting, they had their lawyers and paid consultants present an update to the plan that they had submitted last February to MEPA (Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act office). Not one of the presenters could cite any concrete benefits to the public that would accrue because of this expansion project when asked by a participant. 

  • The developers claim the new hangars will generate “an average” of 12 flights per day at the airport. 
  • While it would be interesting to hear how they arrived at this estimate, simple math indicates that this would amount to 4,380 additional flights per year (12 flights/day x 365 days/year), that is likely a low estimate of the actual additional traffic this project could generate. 
  • Hanscom has seen a 19 percent growth in private jet operations since 2019.  

With typically four-to-five passengers per flight, private jets are recognized as the most polluting form of travel per passenger for their carbon footprint. The most carbon intensive part of a flight is take-off. Hence, short-hops (commonly considered c. two-hour flights) are the most polluting use of private jets.

In October 2023. the Institute for Policy Studies published a detailed study of Hanscom Field flights between January 2022 and July 2023. They found that:

  • 41 percent of the 31,599 private jets that flew in and out of the airport had durations of less than one hour, with 14 percent lasting less than 30 minutes. 
  • At least 49 percent, and likely more, were for recreational and luxury travel – challenging the perception Massport presents which is that private jet flights at Hanscom are used primarily for business purposes.

Private jets are owned by very wealthy people. Because of their clout, private jet owners in our state have successfully lobbied to pay no sales tax on their private jets. At the federal level, they get tax write-offs for the purchase and use of their jets, and pay no fuel tax. 

This airport expansion plan would primarily serve a very small slice of our society, often supporting frivolous activity at a time when UN climate scientists are urging ALL sectors to take drastic and immediate steps to reduce their EXISTING carbon emissions. 

Building hangars that are net zero carbon emitters (laudable under other circumstances) to accommodate expanded super-emitter private jet use makes a mockery of our cities and towns’ genuine efforts to reduce carbon footprint across the state. All our hard-won results would be reversed.

We can stop this project through collective action. Bedford Mothers Out Front has joined forces with nearly 70 other organizations from across the state who have joined the Coalition to Stop Private Jet Expansion at Hanscom or Anywhere.  

The Select Boards of the four towns abutting the Air Field (Bedford, Concord, Lexington, and Lincoln) joined together last fall to send a letter to Governor Maura Healey urging her to use every means within her power to stop this indefensible plan. Subsequently, the Wayland Select Board and the Somerville City Council have sent the Governor resolutions expressing a similar message. 

Bedford Mothers Out Front is one of eight Bedford-based groups who are part of the coalition which includes:

  • Bedford Democratic Town Committee
  • Bedford Embraces Diversity
  • Bedford Mothers Out Front
  • First Parish in Bedford, Unitarian Universalist
  • Green Team, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Bedford
  • Hartwell Farms Homeowners Association
  • League of Women Voters of Bedford
  • Third Act of Bedford

Let’s be clear: Those who oppose this expansion are not trying to shut down Hanscom Field airport or ban the private jets already there. Furthermore, this is not about Hanscom Air Force Base, which is separate and distinct, and which our town supports and has worked to keep open. 

What we’re saying is that private jet hangar expansion is antithetical to the critical and unprecedented steps we are now called upon to take, which are to reduce CO2 emissions and to rein in climate change.

By fighting the private jet hangar expansion at Hanscom Field, we’re sending a message to all airports: No private jet expansion. Not at Hanscom. Not anywhere. It’s a luxury our climate cannot afford.

You can take concrete action to help stop the airport hangar expansion in several ways:

1. Join more than 13,500 Massachusetts residents by signing the petition urging Governor Healey to stop this reckless private jet hangar expansion.

2. If you’re interested in hearing a presentation by the developers, attend their presentation from 6-8 p.m. on Monday, March 4 to be held at Middlesex Community College Campus Center, 591 Springs Rd., Bedford + remote. To register for the Zoom link, go to: https://bit.ly/hanscom-public-session

3.  Register here for an important Webinar at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6 to hear the latest updates on:

  • The private jet hangar expansion plans – what the developers are saying
  • Climate impacts of the proposed expansion and why it’s a statewide issue
  • Next steps in MEPA state environmental review and your public comments!
  • What you can do to help stop this reckless private jet expansion

There will be special remarks by Naomi Oreskes on the proposed private jet hangar expansion and its implications. She is co-author of “Merchants of Doubt,” and a world-renowned public speaker on science, climate change, and corporate efforts to undermine climate action.

The panel will include:

  • Neil Rasmussen, president of Save Our Heritage, tracking Massport-owned Hanscom Field since 1998
  • Chuck Collins, co-author of report “Hanscom High Flyers: Private Jet Excess Doesn’t Justify Airport Expansion,” Institute of Policy Studies
  • Alex Chatfield, St. Anne’s Climate Justice Ministry
  • Moderated by Diane Proctor, League of Women Voters Concord-Carlisle

4. Let your voice be heard during the public comment period on this project which will begin a week after the developers’ expected filing date of Friday, March 15. Bedford Mothers Out Front will keep you posted if you connect with us.

5. For more information on the proposed expansion at Hanscom’s North Airfield and on the effects of private jets on our climate generally, visit https://www.StopPrivateJetExpansion.org/

6. Contact the Bedford chapter of Mothers Out Front to see how you can work with us to oppose this project [email protected] or to request a Stop Private Jet Expansion yard sign.

Mothers Out Front is an organization of mothers and others working toward a livable climate and an equitable future for all children. We invite you to join us as we work to amplify momentum to stop private jet expansion at Hanscom or anywhere.

The opinions expressed in columns and Letters to the Editor are those of the writer, not The Bedford Citizen.

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