Massachusetts State Police arrest 20 climate activists for disrupting traffic at Hanscom Field

Massachusetts State Police arrested 20 climate activists Saturday morning for disrupting flights at Hanscom Field because they “breached a security perimeter and trespassed on the tarmac.” (Contributed/Extinction Rebellion Boston)

A proposed expansion at Hanscom Field may not be approved before kick-off, according to climate activists who were arrested while protesting the development in Bedford.

Massachusetts State Police arrested 20 members of Extinction Rebellion Boston on Saturday morning for disrupting flights at the airport when they “breached a security perimeter and trespassed on the tarmac” to prevent planes from taxiing to the runway. MSP spokesman David Procopio told the Herald they were charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and “possibly other related charges.” The scene disappeared shortly after the event started around 8:30 am

The activists, who opposed a project that would give Hanscom 17 additional hangars for private jets because of potential environmental damage, blocked the entrances of Signature Aviation, Jet Aviation and Atlantic Aviation until they were arrested, the group said in a news release. Others “surrounded the wheels of private jets with their arms and refused to move.”

James Comiskey, one of the arrested activists who the Extinction Rebellion says is a sustainability professional from Boston, called out Governor Maura Healey for remaining silent on the proposed project.

“It is an unjust atrocity that we allow the wealthy to release greenhouse gases into our atmosphere just because they can,” Comiskey said in a statement. “That 1% is responsible for 50% of all aviation emissions. Governor Healey has not taken a position on this issue so we are here to stop these flights from taking off as she herself has not done it. This expansion, and the use of private jets in general, must be stopped.”

The project is currently under review by the Massachusetts Port Authority, which regulates commercial operations at the airport. Massport has said the increased hangar space will allow more aircraft to remain at Hanscom between flights rather than being forced to be transported to other locations for storage, the hyperlocal Concord Bridge reported in February.

A developer behind the proposal initially wanted to add 26 new hangars, but reduced the number to 17, which would have the same total capacity – about 495,000 square meters – as the original plans, impacting three fewer hectares of land, the Bridge reported. The proponent added that the project could reduce the number of daily flights by about nine per day, according to the outlet.

Massport, in response to a Herald request for comment, provided information about the protest but declined to explain why the project was necessary.

Researchers at Tufts University recently identified ultrafine particulate matter in Bedford neighborhoods that may be linked to aircraft operations at Hanscom, but the health implications are uncertain, the hyperlocal Bedford Citizen reported last week.

Residents of Bedford, Concord, Lexington and Lincoln – cities that include Hanscom – have led a petition signed by more than 10,000 Bay State residents. State Senator Michael Barrett has also been an outspoken critic of the expansion.

“By seriously entertaining the proposal to build several new hangars for super-polluting private jets at Hanscom Airfield, Massport is on the verge of a stomach-churning two-fer: aiding and abetting global warming and pandering to the concentration of private jets. wealth. You can’t do much worse than that, can you?” Barrett said this during a protest at the State House last October.

Climate activists are up in arms about the potential damage such a project could lead to. They say the expansion “would enable a 300% increase in private jet services” and is aimed at the “wealthiest travelers in the region, many of whom travel regularly.” short flights to recreational and luxury destinations.”

“I don’t think most people know that private jets produce on average 10 times more CO2 pollution per passenger than commercial airlines,” activist Harley Takagi Kaner said in a statement. “These flights are only available to the ultra-wealthy – who, by the way, get tax exemptions on planes – and we have seen them take advantage of this luxury to take staggeringly unnecessary 30-minute flights.”