Some good economic news dribbled out this week, following a series of disappointing reports on the slow economic recovery.

Gas prices have fallen well below the $4 per gallon level, and could go even lower.

This would not only put a few more dollars in Maine consumers’ pockets, it also would encourage more people to visit from out of state, traveling greater distances and arriving with more money to spend when they are here.

The return of $4 gasoline earlier this year has had a chilling effect on the national economy and has threatened to send it back into recession. Depending on how far they fall, declining prices could have a stimulative effect, just when the economy needs it most.

In Maine, gas prices have a clearly established effect on the economy. Every time gas prices increase by one dollar, $1 billion leaves the state. It has the same effect, notes former Gov. Angus King, as doubling the income tax.

That’s why even as prices fall, Mainers should make themselves aware of the energy conservation techniques that are available to them, which can be as organized as a carpool or as improvised as avoiding an unnecessary errand. These are better responses than the predictable and generally pointless calls for government to end “profiteering” on oil, which trades on world markets and rises in price in response to supply and demand.

No matter how far they fall this summer, higher gas prices are not gone for good and people should prepare for their return. Until then, though, we all can enjoy a little relief.