Oregon briefly allowed residents statewide to pump their own gas. It should ditch the prohibition entirely
The dangerous heat wave that smothered the Pacific Northwest did produce one small sliver of relief: Oregon’s bureaucracy temporarily allowed residents to pump their own gasoline:
The Oregon State Fire Marshal announced Sunday that its office is suspending regulations that prohibit Oregonians from pumping their own gasoline at service stations.
Gov. Kate Brown’s office approved the suspension of regulations.
The Oregon State Fire Marshal said the suspension is due to the current and forecasted heat in the state.
Like so many good policy ideas, the freedom to fill your own tank lasted just a couple of days, and the state reverted to its hodge-podge of regulations allowing some people to fill their cars, while mandating that only an attendant can do so in others.
Oregon and New Jersey are the only states that have such bans. But Oregon’s law is particularly odd:
Few people know that Oregon police can’t arrest or ticket you for pumping your own gas. In fact, state and local police aren’t authorized to enforce the law at all. According to the text of the statute, only the Oregon Fire Marshall can enforce the law, and only the gas station can be sanctioned with a fine not exceeding $500, which only happens if the gas station owner turns down an appeal.
In effect, Oregon’s ban is cultural and self-imposed. While everyone knows “it’s illegal to pump your own gas,” few know how toothless the law really is. There’s no website comment form or tipline on the Oregon Fire Marshall website, just an office phone number and email address.
Sounds like an opportunity to repeal a law that has no real enforcement mechanism, applies to some but not others, and otherwise flies in the face of common sense. Then again, as alternative fuel cars proliferate, the gas pumping law will likely become a relic of old, busted thinking long before lawmakers get around to scrapping it.