2014 was a year of...Grit, Determination, and Getting things done Marblehead Reporter
Ehrlich’s gas-leaks bill becomes law
A combination of patience and persistence over four years helped Representative Ehrlich of Marblehead see the Massachusetts Legislature pass and Gov. Deval Patrick sign her gas-leaks bill into law in 2014.
Standing behind the governor during a July ceremony inside Springfield City Hall, Ehrlich witnessed Patrick’s signature create a requirement that utility companies fix and closely monitor their leaky gas pipes, with the leaks placed in one of three tiers, depending on their severity.
Ehrlich brought attention to this aspect of the state’s ailing infrastructure in 2010, when she first filed a bill seeking to address the looming public safety and environmental hazard. Before this year, she had filed gas-leaks bills in every session.
The quest to make the bill a law became a healthy obsession for the state representative, as she educated the public about the issue at every opportunity.
Sen. Edward Markey, a fellow environmentalist, modeled his federal gas-leaks bill in Congress off Ehrlich’s.
“We should take this incredible Massachusetts leadership and expand it to the entire country,” Markey told the Reporter of Ehrlich’s efforts in July.
The state statute is the first of its kind in the county, and is anticipated to have broad implications beyond utility companies repairing some 25,000 known leaks and continuously monitoring roughly 5,700 miles of pipe in Massachusetts. It is expected to also reverse environmental degradation and spur job growth.
“Preventing explosions from gas leaks was the cornerstone of what was passed, requiring the most hazardous leaks to be fixed immediately,” Ehrlich wrote in an email, adding that she found the whole process “productive and rewarding” following “several years of work.”
December 13, 2014, the main stack of the Salem Power Plant is demolished. Rep. Lori Ehrlich has spent the better part of the past two decades fighting for the public health of her community and is proud to see this day finally arrive.
Breaking News: With near unanimous support from both the House and Senate, the first in the nation Gas Leaks legislation, an effort led by Rep. Lori Ehrlich, was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick! The Boston Globe and The Marblehead Reporter have the story.
"This is now the only place where gas leaks are regulated under state law," he said.
Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey, who filed federal legislation modeled after the new state law, called Ehrlich's bill visionary.
My federal legislation reflects Rep. Ehrlich's bill, and I hope that my colleagues in the U.S. Senate will follow the lead of the Massachusetts state Legislature and Governor Patrick, Markey said on Tuesday. "We should take this incredible Massachusetts leadership and expand it to the entire country."
Lori is serving her fourth term as the Democratic State Representative of the 8th Essex District. She holds a BS in Accounting from Lehigh University and her professional career as a Certified Public Accountant has spanned two-and-a-half decades working for a large regional New England firm and managing her own practice. She also holds a Masters degree in Public Administration from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. While at Harvard, she was the Founder and President of the Kennedy School of Government's Energy Caucus and drew inspiration and campaign skills in Harvard's Women in Public Policy's program From Harvard Square to the Oval Office.
Her founding of two award winning public health advocacy non-profits has given her valuable experience in working with stakeholders in the community, the State House, and federal government. In that work, she led the charge for the cleanup of coal ash from the drinking water for 80,000 residents in Salem, Beverly and parts of Wenham. Her expertise has been widely recognized on the state level and, on several occasions, she has testified in Washington, DC. Her energy and environmental statewide advocacy is chronicled in this magazine article where the headline refers to her as a "Mother Grizzly from Marblehead" because always as a volunteer, she has been an advocate for her community throughout her adult life.
In the legislature, Lori proudly serves as the Vice Chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Labor & Workforce Development and as a member of the House Ways & Means Committee. In addition, she is also a member of the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures & State Assets. Additionally, Lori worked with advocates in drafting and then championed the landmark Massachusetts anti-bullying law and received the Anti-Defamation League’s Good Citizenship Award for her work.