Self-Service Pumps Revisited in Oregon

One of the last holdout states is considering relaxing its full-service requirement
full-service gas stations
Photograph: Shutterstock

An Oregon state bill allowing for self-service retail gas pumps throughout the state has bipartisan support from lawmakers who sponsored it, but a similar effort in 2022 failed because it didn’t have the support of the state fire marshal and others who feared it would bring job cuts.

Those concerns are dissipating in the current hiring environment, where a labor shortage has pushed up wages.

But House Bill 2426 might change this. The legislation is supported by state Rep. Julie Fahey (D-Eugene), Sen. Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro), Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany) and Sen. Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles), the Oregon Capital Chronicle said this week.

Oregon, along with New Jersey, is one of only two states that restrict self-service fueling. Oregon began loosening restrictions on its decades-long self-service fueling ban in 2016, starting first in rural areas. In 2019, legislators introduced a bill intended to expand self-service fueling even more by allowing all gas stations in the state to make up to one-quarter of their fuel pumps self-service, but it did not advance beyond the committee stage. 

Some opponents say allowing self-service would mean job cuts at fueling centers. This was the rationale behind national legislation introduced 10 years ago aiming to mandate full-service attendants at gas stations to generate jobs.  The effort failed.

Others supporters of full-service legislation have raised safety concerns about allowing consumers to fill their own tanks, citing the possibility of spills. Oregon’s full-service gas pumping law requiring attendants dates back to 1951, according to news reports. Others have wanted to preserve the jobs associated with full service.

Controversy over the price some full-service stations in Oregon have charged and confusion over posting those prices could help bring the current legislation to fruition.

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