Gas line explosions spark debate between gubernatorial candidates in Massachusetts

Boston Statehouse

Democratic challenger Jay Gonzalez criticized the Baker Administration this week for not regulating the Department of Public Utilities prior to Thursdays’ natural gas explosions.

A statement from the Gonzalez campaign called out elected officials who oversee the state’s gas infrastructure, saying they are too cozy with the utility companies and that their investigation has suffered because of it. 

Gov. Baker said he had called on the state to accelerate the process of fixing known gas leaks and is aware of the standard protocols the DPU is expected to follow. 

Gonzalez told 22News that only eight inspectors currently oversee the 21,500 miles of pipeline in Massachusetts, and if elected he’d immediately hire more inspectors. 

“What I want to do at the DPU is go from a reactive position to a proactive oversight stance, I think we need to hire a lot more inspectors, multiple times what we have right now,” said Gonzalez.

Gov. Baker said the DPU is currently in the process of adding three new gas inspectors, putting them on par with the previous administration, which was headed by a Democrat.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been called in to lead the investigation into the cause of last Thursday’s gas explosions, and both Baker and Gonzalez said it’s important to wait until the final report is released before drawing a conclusion.

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