By editorial board • 

It may be the end of the road for this Oregon quirk

Oregon has many oddities embedded in state statute.

One of the oddest — and most unusual, as it remains on the books elsewhere only in the East Coast enclave of New Jersey — prohibits the “self-service dispensing of Class 1 flammable liquids at retail.” In other words, pumping your own gas.

At the behest of the Gasoline Retailers Association, New Jersey established its ban in 1949 and Oregon followed suit in 1951. It seems unaffiliated upstarts were horning in to the market by offering lower prices in exchange for less service, and that upset association sensibilities.

New Jersey remains resolute, but thanks to a scarcity of gas jockeys and surplus of self-reliance in remote points like Millican and Fossil, Oregon exempted stand-alone gas stations in counties of fewer than 40,000 souls in 2018. And it’s now moving toward making attendant-pumping optional rather than mandatory in more populated portions of the state.

It seems a little late to us. The way the electric car market is taking off, gas pumping may soon seem as quaint as butter churning and axle greasing.

Of course, the powers that be could decide we need attendants to pump our own electrons, at least in larger counties where recharging demands seem to be gaining greater currency. But we’ll leave that one to future legislatures.

Reluctant lawmakers have cited at least 17 reasons for retaining the ban. Foremost among them is looking out for our health and safety by protecting us from exposure to spills, fumes and potentially dangerous mechanical devices.

However, free market fervor seems poised to carry the day. And retention of a full-service option appears all but assured, though that has come to simply mean getting hired help to pump your gas, not also top off your oil, air up your tires and wash your windshield.

We’re fine with the pending relief, but aren’t expecting to see the price of petrol tumble in the bargain. Sadly, we think that ship sailed long ago.

Yes, we understand a lot of Oregonians don’t seem to cotton to the idea, particularly older Oregonians. However, if the residents of 48 other states and one federal district can manage, so can we.

Opting for full-service might cost a few pennies more. But with gas running nearly $4 a gallon, you’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference.

Let’s hear it for the freedom to pump our gas unattended. Unlike most measures this legislative session, it actually enjoys broadly bipartisan backing.



I cant wait for all these people wanting to pump their own gas when they realize that the gas isn't cheaper (go to Washington, more expensive) and now they get to stand out in the wind and rain and pump their own gas for the same price. The station owners will only have 1 person working and they won't come out to serve the disabled or elderly. if you think this will save money apparently you come from a different country where greed doesnt rule.

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