Oregon and New Jersey in the US are the only two states that ban self-service gas stations. But thanks to a new law that went into effect on January 1, customers can now pump their own gas in Oregon, though only at stand-alone gas stations in counties with fewer than 40,000 residents.
Elsewhere, the ban still holds. But even this tiny increase in freedom was apparently too much for some Oregonians. In a Facebook post that’s now gone viral, local news station KTVL polled their fans for their thoughts about the new law. Some did not take the news well.
Here are some a few quotes from people in Oregon when asked about serving themselves fuel;:
“Many people are not capable of knowing how to pump gas and the hazards of not doing it correctly. Besides I don't want to go to work smelling of gas when I get it on my hands or clothes. I agree Very bad idea.”
“I don't even know HOW to pump gas and I am 62, native Oregonian.....I say NO THANKS! I don't want to smell like gasoline!”
“I've lived in this state all my life and I REFUSE to pump my own gas. I had to do it once in California while visiting my brother and almost died doing it".
"This a service only qualified people should perform. I will literally park at the pump and wait until someone pumps my gas. I can't even”
Of course, every day, tens of millions of Americans in 48 states pump their own gas and miraculously manage to avoid setting themselves on fire or drowning in gas..
Yet as hysterical as those reactions are, unfortunately, they’re actually not that far off from the state’s official justifications for the ban.
As part of the Oregon law, legislators listed a staggering 17 different reasons to defend the state’s “prohibition on the self-service dispensing of Class 1 flammable liquids at retail.”
According to the legislature, pumping your own gas is a “health hazard,” whereas requiring “properly trained” attendants to pump gas “reduces fire hazards.”
In addition, self-service stations expose customers to “the dangers of crime and slick surfaces,” while leaving small children in the car to pay for gas “creates a dangerous situation.”
Meanwhile, established businesses are more than happy to fuel and exploit public panic for their own gain. For instance, New Jersey’s ban on self-service was heavily backed by the Gasoline Retailers Association, which faced greater competition from rival gas stations that allowed their customers to pump their own gas.
Since those newer stations had no need for attendants, they cut costs, and passed on the savings to consumers in the form of cheaper gas. That threatened the bottom line for incumbent gas station owners, who lobbied the state legislature to ban self-service in 1949. (Oregon’s ban arrived two years later.)