After years of debate, gas stations throughout Oregon can begin allowing the public to pump their own gasoline.
Oregon was one of two states to continue to restrict self-service at gas stations. Previously, self-service gas was available in only a handful of rural counties in eastern Oregon.
The new law, which Gov. Tina Kotek signed last week, allows gas stations in 16 of the state's most populous counties to use up to 50% of their pumps for self-service. The state requires stations to charge the same prices for full-service as self-service. It also requires stations to clearly mark which pumps are for self-service.
In 20 rural counties, unattended self-service is permitted at all pumps.
The House passed the bill in March by a 47-10 margin. The Senate passed it in June by a 16-9 ledger.
Mike Freese of the Oregon Fuels Association said the new law could shorten lines for gas.
"It is no secret that Oregon has unique gas fueling laws. Nevertheless, as explained by gas station owners, finding employees to pump gas is extremely hard — and even impossible in some cases — which in turn makes it impossible to keep gas stations open and operating," Freese testified. "HB 2426 helps relieve pressure in this tight labor market, while preserving the choice to fuel your own vehicle or opt for an attendant to fuel the vehicle."
Previously, justifications for continuing full-service gas pumping in Oregon have included customer safety and job preservation. But Ian Hill, co-owner of SeQuential Refuel Station, said his station has struggled to meet customer demand amid employee shortages.
"The labor market is very competitive and it is an extremely difficult environment for small fuel stations," Hill said. "While we support the directional change represented by HB 2426, we would prefer that the bill went further and simply did away with Oregon's full-service fueling requirement entirely."
Brandon Venable, a gas station manager in Oregon, testified he opposed the changes due to safety concerns.
"I deal with many dangerous situations on the daily created by people smoking, leaving their engines running, getting in and out of their vehicles creating static electricity, trying to fill up random bottles and jugs and driving off with the pump still in the vehicle. For someone who spends 10 minutes at a gas station this may not seem like something that is dangerous, but when you deal with this for eight-plus hours a day it’s reality," he said.
New Jersey is now the last state in the U.S. to restrict self-service gas.
Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com