Oregon adds option for self-service at gas stations

With great power comes great responsibility, and Oregon drivers have just gained both. On Aug. 4, Oregon Bill 2426 took effect, granting Oregon residents the power to pump their own gasoline. 

If you love rolling up to a gas station and not having to leave your car, do not panic. Under the new law, Oregon gas stations are still required to provide optional service to customers, but are now also allowed to offer self-service. 

Bill 2426 was proposed in January of this year and, after widely publicized discussion, was approved by the Oregon House on March 20 and Senate on June 21. By declining to veto the bill before it took effect on Aug. 4, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek effectively gave it the final approval needed to become law, reversing the standard which has been in place since 1951.

Various reasons have been given over the years to explain Oregon’s reticence to change this law, including the employment opportunities provided by gas stations and civilians’ safety when handling flammable liquid. 

With the passage of Bill 2426, however, New Jersey is now the only state that still bans self-service gasoline. For some Oregonians, this was overdue progress, while others are wary about the implications of the bill. 

Most Lewis & Clark students come from states where self-service gas is the norm. For those who had to adjust to Oregon’s laws, the option to pump their own gas is welcome.

“I’m happy about the new law,” Ella Ferencz ’25 said. “I’m from California, so I love pumping my own gas, and also it means I don’t have to talk to people at gas stations.”

Another student from California, Zoe Berger ’26, also said she prefers pumping her own gas, but is unsure about the societal impact of Bill 2426.

“Having someone pump your gas is kind of like having a waiter, where it feels awkwardly like having a servant if you’re not careful about it. So (self-service) is less uncomfortable for me and I’m used to it,” Berger said. “I do think it sucks because people are probably going to be out of a job because of that, but I don’t think I understand the economic impact enough to be able to make a moral choice. I just know from my experience, it does feel like something you don’t need a person for.”

Long-term Oregon residents, on the other hand, weighed in saying that they prefer having their gas pumped for them, but aren’t worried about the new law.

“I hadn’t even noticed that the law changed,” Lance Inouye said. “If I go to the ones I normally go to, people are normally working there and they always come out and they just go straight into it. I’d rather them do it, if it’s raining out and it’s cold, I don’t want to get out of my car and they’re already out there.”

Nico Vilches ’26 expressed a similar sentiment, citing the convenience of gas-station assistants. 

“I don’t really understand (Bill 2426) because as an Oregonian it’s just kind of nice to sit in my car and let someone else do it,” Vilches said. “But also it doesn’t really bother me because they are still giving you that option. If people really want to (pump their own gas) then that’s great and they should do that.”

Many Americans are astonished to learn that there are people driving vehicles who don’t know how to pump their own gas, while many Oregonians view this as an objectionable chore. Nonetheless, Bill 2426 allows Oregonians to carefully venture into the world of self-service gas stations while letting non-Oregonians revel in the newly granted permission to pump their own gas.

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