Oregon Mulls Self-Service Gas Station Bill

Labor shortages are causing long lines at gas pumps in the state. Lawmakers want to change that.

February 03, 2022

Pumping Gas

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Oregonians could soon be allowed to pump their own gas under a bipartisan bill entered in the Oregon legislature, and the body is expected to act on it within the month, reports Oil Price Information Service (OPIS). Oregon and New Jersey are the only two U.S. states that don’t allow self-service fueling.

The House Bill 4151 would allow self-service fill-ups at half of the pumps at a gas station, and the remaining pumps still would be full service. The labor shortage has caused long lines at gas stations, and some stations are struggling to remain open, according to gas station owners and the legislators sponsoring the bills, reports Oregon Live.

“We've been pushing for this for years and have already gotten hit down because we were pushing in the wrong way," Gabriel Zirkle, president of the Oregon Fuels Association, told OPIS. "This year it became a bipartisan issue, and we came up with the idea of giving consumers choice. Choice is a lot better of an option than either one way or another.”

The bill also requires that gas prices remain the same whether the gas is pumped by an attendant or the customer.

OPIS conducted a poll in September, which found that 63% of respondents approved of having a choice between full- and self-service, with that number rising to 68% in a poll conducted in December.

“I think consumers are nervous about how it will impact their lives, so introducing them to the option lets them see it's not that bad to dip your card,” Zirkle told OPIS. “It's similar to grocers going to self-serve checkout. At first, people were hesitant. But as society moved further forward, people said 'I can do that as fast as someone else ringing it up for me.’”

New Jersey is the only other state in the U.S. that does not allow self-service gas stations. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy refused requests from station operators to ease the rules at the height of the state's strict COVID-19 lockdowns. Former state Senate President Steve Sweeney said he would never let legislation on self-service move forward in the upper house, but now that he is no longer in office, Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience Store and Automotive Association, says that he could see movement on the issue in the state.