After a 72-year reign, Oregon’s self-service gas prohibition has been decisively repealed in the state Senate. Though there have been intermediate years and exceptions, notably in rural counties in 2017, and during wildfires or heatwaves since 2020. House Bill 2426 as proposed would require gas stations to staff half of the available pumps, but allows the other half to be self-service.
According to a report from The Oregonian, fuel companies have long pushed for the change due to staffing shortages. The Northwest Grocery Association, an advocate for retail and food suppliers, claims that jobs won’t be lost because half of gas pumps are already closed due to understaffing. The provision in the bill to staff half of pumps reflects this statistic, effectively reopening gas stations that are understaffed.
Full-service gas stations are a relic of the past, from a time when adding fuel by yourself was dangerous and prohibited by state fire codes, but also inconvenient. One of the first self-service gas stations opened in 1947 in Los Angeles and started a change that caught strongly in the ‘70s. From then, self-service became the new normal, and when pay-at-the-pump proliferated in the ‘80s with the rise of credit cards. From then, there have been staunch holdouts of full-service gas stations, the most famous of which is New Jersey. Oregon was the other.
Oregon’s bill crucially prevents stations from charging more for a full-service pump than a self-service, which will effectively eliminate full-service pumps. The economic advantage of self-serve, saving money for the owners of the stations, will shift legislative future pressure surrounding full-service stations. Not to mention, Oregon drivers that would prefer to save time by simply pulling up to an empty pump rather than waiting in line for a forced full-service pump.
The bill goes to Oregon Governor Tina Kotek to be signed into immediate effect.