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Pain at the gas pump: Granite Staters feel the local impact of global energy market shifts

Granite Staters are experiencing higher gas prices, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine
Dan Tuohy
Granite Staters are experiencing higher gas prices, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Gas was $4.29 per gallon at the Concord Mobil Kathie Ricker pulled up to on Tuesday afternoon.

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Like many Granite Staters, Ricker has felt the local impacts of global shifts in energy markets. On Tuesday, the sticker price of gas hit record highs across the United States, as crude oil prices surged in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ricker has been sharing her car with her daughter to manage expenses, and she said the two of them let the tank get pretty low before filling up. But, she said, she’s willing to pay higher prices to support Ukrainian citizens during the war.

“Those people in Ukraine are suffering, they’re suffering daily,” she said. “Of course it’s expensive to fill up, but these people are just suffering so badly and I’m okay with paying more at the pump.”

Ricker said if prices get even higher, she’ll start planning out her car trips more mindfully. Customer Luke Little is already doing some of that.

As Little pulled into Speedway in Concord on Tuesday for an afternoon refill, he said he’s started to consider cutting out longer trips.

“The prices are absolutely crazy. I don't think I’ve ever seen them this high,” he said. “It’s making me rethink my travel plans. I had to visit some friends in NYC this weekend and I almost had to cancel the trip because of how expensive gas was.”

President Biden warned Tuesdaygas prices could continue to spike when he announced a ban on imports of Russian energy – oil, liquified natural gas, and coal. All four members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation supported bipartisan efforts to ban Russian energy imports.

Members of the delegation have also pushed for federal efforts to mitigate the impact of gas prices on Granite Staters.

”We must do all we can…including releasing additional barrels from our strategic reserves, encouraging lease holders to fully utilize existing permits, holding oil companies accountable, and suspending the gas tax to give Granite state families relief,” said Rep. Chris Pappas, a Democract.

In February, Sen. Maggie Hassan called for a suspension of the federal gas tax. Hassan also pushed for the release of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve, which the U.S. Department of Energy announced last week.

Gov. Chris Sununu used the global oil price spike to push for increased domestic fossil fuel production, joining 24 other governors in a statement to President Biden, which claimed building the Keystone XL pipeline and other efforts to support fossil fuel development would protect national energy security. The letter also called on Biden to “[remove] his bans on new oil and gas development on federal lands.”

As NPR reports, the Biden administration approved more oil and gas drilling permits on public lands per month than former President Donald Trump did in his first three years, according to one analysis from a liberal advocacy group.

In the letter, the 24 governors connected domestic fossil fuel developments to prices at the pump – but approving gas and oil projects in the U.S. wouldn’t have a short-term impact on fuel prices, according to energy analysts interviewed by NPR.

Projects like the Keystone XL pipeline would commit the United States to emitting even more greenhouse gas. The latest IPCC climate change report showed the dire consequences further emissions could have for humans.

The U.S. Department of Energy said in a statement last week that clean energy investments, rather than fossil fuel development, “offer the surest path towards a world where energy supply cannot be used as a means of political coercion or a threat to national security, and where families and businesses are protected from volatile prices and markets.”

The Energy Department says those technologies are available and cost-effective right now. But in New Hampshire, there are some more immediate and simpler ways to mitigate the impacts of rising gas prices.

For Matt Baronas, a planner with the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission, the higher prices provide an opportunity to shift commuting habits to carpooling.

In his work with Commute Smart New Hampshire, he says he’s seen a bigger interest in carpooling already this month, which he thinks is because of the rising costs.

“Carpools and van pools are a huge opportunity for people to start saving money,” he said.

Carpooling can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions – which mostly come from transportation in New Hampshire.

Baronas said one way to encourage carpooling is to collaborate with coworkers and employers to see if others are interested.

“Especially with rising gas prices, maybe it’s an opportunity to rally around something like that, even if it’s financially motivated,” Baronas said.

Mara Hoplamazian reports on climate change, energy, and the environment for NHPR.
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