By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Whatchamacolumn: Don't forget to pull that gas nozzle out

Today, some Oregon drivers will forget to re-attach gas tank caps before leaving their first in-state experience with self-service gasoline. I just hope they all remember to pull out the nozzle before driving away.

New Jersey now is the only state with a self-serve ban on gasoline. Oregon’s new law, effective today, gives motorists a choice between assisted and self-service at the pumps. With exceptions.

Oregon banned self-service gasoline in 1951 to protect service station jobs and reduce risks of accidents. Voters soundly defeated a 1982 ballot measure that proposed self-service, but in recent years we have moved incrementally toward these new statewide permissions for unattended service.

In 2015, with HB 3011, the Legislature allowed self-service between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. in counties with fewer than 40,000 people.

In 2017, HB 2482 provided 24-hour self-service options in five counties — Hood River, Wasco, Jefferson, Deschutes and Klamath; allowed self-service from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in Clatsop, Curry and Tillamook counties; and required the presence of a service attendant between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. at stations with retail space selling non-automotive products.

This year, HB 2426 establishes statewide self-serve options, partially responding to challenges faced by service stations in finding and keeping employees. Various provisions of that law will spark at least initial confusion among motorists and service station workers.

In general, stations can designate self-serve and attended pumps, but only if at least half of their pumps are attended; gas prices must be identical at all pumps, and at least one attendant must be available; motorcycles can be self-serve even if all other vehicles are attended.

However, in 20 named counties (not including Yamhill), stations without retail space can provide self-serve gasoline at all hours without available attendants; those with retail space must provide assisted service from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

We likely will hear of motorists and service station workers having spirited debates about the new permissions and requirements for pumping gas. Probably, a few of those exchanges will morph into partisan politics.

Behind the scenes, people will continue discussing the price of gas, which this week in McMinnville was spotted from $4.48 to $4.60 a gallon. As usual, prices escalated for Memorial Day weekend and remained high.

Washington and Oregon — due to geography, taxes, regulations and strict environmental standards — have two of the nation’s highest average prices for gasoline. This week, that’s about $1 higher than in most of the country.

But now we share the ability to pump gas all by ourselves.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


Web Design and Web Development by Buildable