In almost every other place in the country, people have the freedom to pump their own gas. In Oregon, not so much.
A bill in the Legislature, House Bill 3194, would loosen Oregon's rules. It would allow self-service at gas stations, as long as it is not at more than 25 percent of the pumps.
The bill should pass, but there must be a good reason why the state of Oregon has been so reluctant to allow people to pump their own. Right? Perhaps Oregonians are less gifted than people in other states. Or maybe Oregonians are more flammable?
We looked it up. Oregon actually has 17 official reasons enshrined in state law to oppose self-serve gas. Here are some highlights:
In Oregon Revised Statutes 480.235, the solons in our Legislature have declared Oregon's weather to be "uniquely adverse." The ice in this state is presumably more slippery. The rain is more wet. The sun is shinier. The clouds are cloudier. It can feel like it some days — that's for sure. But the Legislature has declared the weather here is uniquely adverse, so it must be a bona fide, scrupulously researched fact.
The law explains Oregon's uniquely adverse weather causes "wet pavement and reduced visibility." And there is "the increased risk of personal injury resulting from slipping on slick surfaces."
Somehow, people in other states are able to deal with wet pavement and reduced visibility when pumping their own. Thank you oh wise Legislature, for protecting us.
The state also warns that self-service may lead to exposure to gas fumes, representing a health hazard to customers. We suppose it's much healthier for attendants to be exposed to gas fumes repeatedly, all the workday long than for customers to get an occasional whiff when they fill up.
There are some other reasons the state lists that do make some sense. For instance, there are other safety issues, though, once again, people in other states manage just fine. Self-service pumps may also cost more to insure and that could be passed on to consumers. Of course, gas stations would not need as many attendants, so that may reduce costs to consumers. It is further undeniable that people who are disabled or elderly could find it difficult to pump their own gas. Surely legislators can put their heads together and come up with a regulation to deal with that. Here's a hint: full serve.
One last thought about Oregon's "uniquely adverse" weather: If the weather in Oregon is really so bad, why on earth is the state not including "uniquely adverse" weather warnings in ads luring tourists to Oregon? Somebody tell Visit Bend.
-- The Bend Bulletin