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Oregon lifts ban on self-serve gas, leaving N.J. as the only state prohibiting it

The new law took effect Friday after Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek signed a bill allowing drivers to dispense fuel themselves.
Attendants in vests service cars at a gas station in Salem, Oregon, on Thursday, June 22, 2023. In 1951, Oregon banned self-serve pumps at filling stations, being the only U.S. state besides New Jersey to do so. But now, the Oregon Legislature has decided that people across the state should be able to choose between having an attendant pump the gas or do it themselves. Gov. Tina Kotek signed the bill into law on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, taking effect immediately.
Attendants in vests service cars at a gas station in Salem, Oregon, on June 22.Andrew Selsky / AP

For the first time in more than seven decades, drivers in Oregon are allowed to pump their own gas.

Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek signed a bill on Friday that lets drivers choose between dispensing fuel themselves or having an attendant pump the gas for them.

The new law, which takes effect immediately, leaves New Jersey as the only state that prohibits self-service gas stations. Still, stations in Oregon will not be allowed to have more self-service pumps than ones designated for full service.

The state's 72-year ban on self-service pumps was due in large part to safety concerns for drivers. A state law cited "increased risk of crime and the increased risk of personal injury resulting from slipping on slick surfaces."

The state Legislature sent the self-service legislation to the governor's desk this summer. The state Senate passed the bill in June in a 16-9 vote, three months after the House passed the measure 47 to 10.

State Sen. Lew Frederick, a Democrat who opposed the legislation, said in a floor speech in June that the move would make it more difficult for the elderly to get help pumping gas and lead to job loss.

"I have personally had to get out and pump gas for elderly folks in other states whom I witnessed were not able to get the assistance they were legally entitled to," Frederick said. "Oregon flies with her own wings. I am not convinced that just because other states do something, we have to as well."

Oregon had made some exceptions to the ban, particularly in rural areas. Friday’s bill signing lifts the restrictions statewide.

Mike Freese, a lobbyist for Oregon Fuels Association, testified earlier this year in support of lifting the ban, telling a legislative committee that employee shortages had made it hard to keep some stations open.

"It is no secret that Oregon has unique gas fueling laws," Freese told legislators. "Nevertheless, as explained by gas station owners, finding employees to pump gas is extremely hard – and even impossible in some cases – which in turn makes it impossible to keep gas stations open and operating."

Enactment of the Oregon law means New Jersey is the only state that does not allow self-service pumps. The state's ban dates back to 1949.