Oregon’s rule preventing self-service at gas stations could be overturned in the 2022 legislative session, KTLA sister station KOIN in Portland reports.
Oregon is currently one of two states — New Jersey being the other — that does not permit motorists statewide to pump their own gas.
But new legislation seeks to change that. House Bill 4151 would allow drivers to choose between self-service and full-service at gas stations throughout the state. The chief sponsors of the bipartisan bill are Rep. Shelly Boshard Davis, R-Albany, and Rep. Julie Fahey, D-Eugene.
Proponents of the bill have started a website, choiceatthepump.com, to try and gain more support for the bill’s passage.
The website says, “48 states in the U.S. allow drivers to pump their own gas. Isn’t it time Oregonians had a choice?”
Proponents say the fueling choice bill comes at a time when gas stations are struggling to staff vacant positions amid widespread labor shortages.
“This legislation will provide relief for gas stations struggling to remain open during labor shortages, for station attendants racing to serve waiting customers, and for drivers stuck in line at the pump,” Boshart Davis said in a press release. “It’s a win for every Oregonian.”
Gabriel Zirkle, president of the Oregon Fuels Association, said he agrees it’s time to offer this choice to Oregonians. The association includes members from more than 500 independent, locally-owned gas stations.
“We know from the experiences of 48 other states that self-serve can be done safely and efficiently,” Zirkle said. “Oregonians support customer choice. This bill will offer convenience for Oregonians who choose it, and will reduce the wait for those in line to be served by an attendant.”
On Jan. 1, 2018, Oregon began allowing self-service to motorists in rural counties with populations under 40,000 — a change that wasn’t welcome among quite a few Oregonians, with many expressing their displeasure about having to pump their own gas in the comment section of a viral Facebook post.
The state tried expanding that law in 2019 with House Bill 3194, which would have allowed any gas station in Oregon to designate up to a quarter of its fuel pumps for customers who want to fill their own tanks. The bill did not make it out of the House. Rep. Fahey was also a sponsor of that bill.
HB 4151 would allow gas stations to offer customers a choice of either self-service fueling or fueling provided by an attendant. It would increase civil penalties if a fuel retailer violates attendant-service requirements.
The legislation also requires both self- and full-service gas to be offered at the same price, and it would grant the state new emergency authority to relax attendant-service requirements when necessary.
During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oregon loosened its grip on the pump once again when it allowed people to dispense their own gas. The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office said the relaxed rule was meant to facilitate social distancing and minimize exposure for gas attendants.
Since 1951, Oregon has legally required all gas stations to have attendants who fill motorists’ gas tanks. Lawmakers argued it was meant to prevent higher insurance rates for gas companies, reduce fire hazards, and avoid slick surfaces from forming. The law lists 17 reasons justifying its implementation.
An attempt to appeal it in 1982 was unsuccessful.
The latest bill trying is scheduled to have its first reading in the House on Feb. 1, 2022.