Oregon is set to join the majority of states in the U.S. by allowing motorists to pump their own gas, as a new law goes into effect. The 72-year-old ban on self-service at most gas stations will be lifted, giving Oregonians more control over their refueling experiences.
Governor Tina Kotek is expected to sign the measure, which was overwhelmingly passed by the state legislature in June. However, even if the governor doesn't sign the bill, it will automatically go into effect under provisions of Oregon law. This allows bills that are not vetoed by the governor to take effect once the deadline for nixing a measure expires.
Following the implementation of this new law, New Jersey will be the only state to still ban self-service at gas stations. While fuel retailers in New Jersey are also advocating for a lifting of the ban, any action on a similar measure before the legislature is unlikely to happen until at least next year.
The Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Gasoline, C-Store, Automotive Association, Eric Blomgren, expressed his support for giving consumers a choice between self-service and full service. He emphasized the importance of providing options to customers when it comes to refueling their vehicles. Unfortunately, if no changes are made, New Jersey will become the only state where consumers don't have that choice.
The proposal in New Jersey is bipartisan and closely resembles the law that is now coming into effect in Oregon. The new law in Oregon mandates that at least half of fuel pumps must offer full service with stations staffed by at least one attendant. It also ensures that stations cannot charge more for full service than they do for self-service.
Oregon initially issued a ban on self-serve gasoline in 1951. However, in 2015, the ban was partially lifted to allow self-service during certain hours in rural and less-populated areas. This change aimed to enable gas stations to extend their operating hours and cater to the needs of their customers.
With this new law going into effect, Oregonians will have the freedom to choose whether they would prefer to pump their own gas or opt for full service. The lifting of the ban aligns Oregon with the majority of states and marks a significant shift in the state's fueling practices.
The Rise of Self-Service at Gas Stations
During the Covid-19 pandemic, self-service at gas stations became a statewide practice in Oregon. The decision was driven by the struggle to find workers and customers' desire to minimize human interactions at the pump.
Similarly, New Jersey retailers are now advocating for a new law to permit self-service due to ongoing difficulties in hiring. The lack of available staff has resulted in reduced hours and closed fuel islands during peak times.
Last year, legislation was introduced to allow self-service in New Jersey, while still mandating that stations with more than four dispensers offer full-service as an option. The retail association estimates that this move could potentially reduce gasoline costs in the state by about 15 cents per gallon.
However, State Senate President Nicholas Scutari, a Democrat, has shown reluctance to bring the bill to a vote, citing public opposition to eliminating full-service.
Public opinion also played a role in the delay of Oregon's self-service legislation. In their case, the bill was held for over a month to assess public support.
(Reporting by Steve Cronin; Editing by Frank Tang)