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Self-serve? Why not?

Self-serve gas — one of those quirky things that makes Oregon unique — is being debated again in Salem, and could be a thing of the past.

Along with New Jersey, Oregon is one of the last two states in the country where you can’t fill your own tank. House Bill 3194 would allow gas stations in Oregon to designate up to one-quarter of their pumps as self-service.

Backers say the bill would still require some full-serve, preserving jobs and giving motorists the option of staying in their cars. Opponents say it would still eliminate jobs and would be another step on the road to allowing all-self-serve stations.

We think it’s past time to end this quaint custom, especially because several of the reasons laid out in state law no longer apply:

Fire hazard — Modern gas nozzles have shut-off mechanisms that prevent spills. Safety is not an issue.

Maintenance — Self-serve decreases “maintenance checks by attendants,” resulting in costly vehicle repairs. Everyone who can remember the last time an attendant checked their oil, raise your hand.

Cost — Self-serve supposedly hasn’t led to lower prices in other states, but the bill would bar stations from charging two different prices.

The real reason to allow some self-serve is choice. Under HB 3194, at least 75 percent of pumps would still be full-serve for those who want it. Those who would rather pump their own gas could choose to do that. Why not let them?

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