We all have a stake in stopping private jet expansion at Hanscom Airfield.

by Larry Pareles

Indivisibles representing multiple Massachusetts communities have joined a coalition of local and environmental groups to stop an expansion of Hanscom Field in Bedford that would greatly increase private jet traffic in the area.

Members of the coalition — called Stop Private Jet Expansion at Hanscom or Anywhere — include progressives, environmentalists, local community members, and others who seek to prevent this environmental disaster-in-the-making before it gets off the ground. We all have a stake in this important effort.

Private jets cause far more pollution than commercial flights.

Hanscom Field is a publicly owned airfield in Bedford that hosts the greatest number of private jets in New England. The Massachusetts Port Authority wants to add 27 hangars that could add up to 81 private jets to the airfield, tripling Hanscom’s private jet capacity. Private jets pollute 10 to 20 times more per passenger than commercial planes.

About 200 coalition advocates recently joined Massachusetts Senator Michael Barrett (D-Lexington), who co-chairs the committee that reviews climate bills, in a rally on the steps of the State House to protest the airfield expansion. The activists then delivered a petition with over 10,000 signatures to Governor Maura Healey. 

Advocates at the rally warned that expanding the airfield would undermine the state’s climate efforts, offsetting investments in renewable energy and cutting emissions. Chuck Collins, co-author of a recent Institute for Policy Studies report on emissions from private jets, told the crowd: “You’ve got some of the most wealthy fliers in their private jets going in and out of Hanscom…to places like Nantucket, where there are other options to drive and take the ferry, or to New York, where… there are other transportation alternatives that are miniscule in their emissions.” 

Sen. Barrett said, “The immediate ask is that the Massport Board of directors just says no. No to the contracts. No to the proposal. No to the 27 hangars.” ​​Diane Proctor of Concord Indivisible read a statement from U.S. Sen. Edward Markey who opposes expanding the airfield. 

© 2023 Marilyn Humphries
© 2023 Marilyn Humphries

Decisions like this will affect the climate for our children.

Kalea Foo, a fifth-grade student from Lexington, spoke about her concern that climate change is already happening here. 

“At the start of the school year we couldn’t go outside for recess because it was so hot, way hotter than what used to be normal,” she said. “But some schools didn’t have air conditioning, so it was scorching inside their classrooms, and some schools even had to close… It’s not safe outside and it’s not safe inside. What do you want us to do? For our generation, this is way more scary.” (Read Kalea’s letter to the editor published in the Lexington Observer.)

“It’s not safe outside and it’s not safe inside. What do you want us to do? For our generation, this is way more scary.”

—Lexington Student Kalea Foo

Photo: Lauren Feeney, Lexington Observer

How you can help

Here are some actions that we can all take now to prevent this travesty of an environmental tragedy: 

Thank you for your work to stop the expansion of Hanscom Field.