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Flip-Side of Low Gas Prices – the Impact on NH Climate, Air

PHOTO: The other side to low prices at the gas pump could be an increase in climate and air quality concerns in the Granite State. Credit: @mlcliff
PHOTO: The other side to low prices at the gas pump could be an increase in climate and air quality concerns in the Granite State. Credit: @mlcliff
December 22, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. - Low gas prices are likely to give the economy a boost by giving Americans some extra money in their pockets, but there is a flip-side to that good news. Catherine Corkery, chapter director with the New Hampshire Sierra Club says if cheap gas means more folks behind the wheel, it will have a negative impact on air quality here. She says motor vehicles are a major source of air pollution and notes it's not just New Hampshire drivers that cause it, but also those in bigger states up wind.

"We drive more and other people in New York or Massachusetts when they drive more," says Corkery. "All of that pollution ends up here."

Corkery says more driving also means more cars producing greenhouse gases, which are the primary contributors to climate change. She says electric and hybrid vehicles, car pooling and mass transit all provide options to help protect New Hampshire's climate and air quality.

Michael Green, public relations manager with Triple-A, says the national average gas price around $2.50 per gallon is the lowest level in more than five years. He says an oversupply of oil globally is causing prices to fall, and he predicts they'll stay low for much of the new year.

"It is a pretty safe bet that gas prices will remain relatively low throughout 2015, but after that, who knows," says Green. "There is definitely the possibility U.S. oil production could decrease due to the fact that crude oil prices are so low."

Green says gas is now selling for less than $2 a gallon in several states, down from this year's peak national average of $3.70 back in April. Triple-A estimates the average American family is saving about $100 a month at the pump. Green says altogether, Americans are saving about $400 million per day on gas.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH