The Price of Pumping

Kassandra Travis
Staff Writer

Opinions_The Price of Pumping_Kassandra Travis_Flickr User_Nick Trippe

Photo credit: Nick Trippe/Flickr

Beginning on Jan. 1, the state of Oregon lifted its ban on self-service gas pumps and it has the the state outraged. Although the state is demanding a reverse in the recently approved law, there is no concrete basis for their reaction.

This novel experience for Oregonians will not only allow better access to gas pumps, but it will also allow gas station owners to focus on other tasks. Oregon should look at the benefits that come with this law instead of stubbornly focusing on the partial loss of their gas services.

Oregon originally mandated the full-service stations to prevent the dangers associated with gasoline for untrained residents, such as creating a fire or causing a large gas spill. Since 1951 when this law was first put into effect, gas pumps and the process of fueling your car has become easier and safer.

Emily LeRoy, executive director of the Tennessee Fuel & Convenience Store Association, states that the process of fueling vehicles was once a safety issue, but the gas industry has heavily improved the safety of pumps and underground gas tanks in recent years. It’s such a simple procedure now that even teenagers are fueling cars unattended without mishap. Having someone pump your gas for you due to a safety concern is a non-issue.

Just imagine that you are an operator at the local gas station, sleeping in bed peacefully, when someone knocks on your door in the middle of the night. You answer the door to discover the local policeman, holding an empty gas can, endeavoring you to go and open your store and fill the gas tank for an unlucky traveler who had the misfortune to run out of gas outside the business hours.

According to the Washington Post, this was a common occurrence before the bill was lifted. There are so few gas stations in the rural areas of Oregon, drivers would be forced to sit and wait for gas stations to open to purchase gas, or risk running out of gas before reaching the next town. Although most Americans have the liberty to go to the local Sheetz at 4 a.m. to fuel their car, most full-service stations only allowed purchase of gas, and availability of an attendant, during the daytime hours of 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.

This terrible inconvenience was also the backbone of the recently passed law.  With gas having only been available during daytime hours, it was a practically extinct commodity during the night. Now, with unlimited self-service gas pumping available to drivers in 15 counties, the problem of having to fuel up before dark is non-existent.

Another issue  is the thousands of jobs which are currently occupied by gas pump attendants. Although the law did lift the ban on self-service pumping, it does not require retailers to switch solely to being self-service. Some will take advantage of this law change, but others will keep their stations as full-service. There is no job loss anticipation for gas attendants now or in the foreseeable future. Station owners statewide are firm in their stance of keeping all of their current employees, attendants included.

For those who do choose to be self-service, attendants are still required during daylight hours. Therefore, with full-service stations still standing firm and having current employment of attendants during daytime hours, there is no cause of alarm for potential layoff of thousands of employees.

Many Oregonians are concerned that the law would force those with disabilities to attempt to pump their own gas, possibly causing harm to them, yet the Americans With Disabilities Act requires that self-service gas stations provide assistance to customers who are disabled.

This new law will also save Oregonians a lot of money. It was estimated that Oregon’s full-service requirement raised the price of fuel from three to five cents per gallon. Saving money by the lowered price of fuel via self-pumping should be enough to replace any heartache about pumping gas when the weather is cold. Not only does this bill potentially lower the price of gas, but it also nullifies any requirement of leaving your gas attendant a tip.

This new allowance of self-service pumping does nothing except give more freedom towards gas retailers and consumers. Not only has more time become vacant for owners to be dedicated towards more necessary business, but it has also given residents the freedom to fuel their automobile at any time without worry of an attendant being unavailable.

If desired, there are still many stations continuing with their full-service pumping. This law has opened many different avenues previously closed towards Oregonians, so get excited and go pump your gas!



Categories: Columns, Opinions

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