Last month, Oregon became the subject of considerable internet mockery for its late adoption of limited “pump-your-own-gas” laws. Since 1951, all gas stations in the state have required attendants to handle the fueling process, but as of January 1, some parts of Oregon are now self-service, leaving New Jersey as the only state to still require gas attendees. Hard emphasis on “some,” however: this change in legislation only applies to counties occupied by less than 40,000 people, which is a little under half of all Oregon counties. To put that into perspective, Multnomah County, where Portland is located, has a population of over 790,000, so unless this area experiences a very sudden and very extensive exodus, self-service gas isn’t likely to become a reality here any time soon.
Many have flocked to social media and vehemently complained, whether it be about not knowing how to pump gas or about concerns over the economy, from losing gas attendee jobs to hopes of now decreasing the price of gas. These claims appear to be unfounded, however, as no clear source can indicate any drastic changes from the new law. At the end of the day, in spite of the hype it generated, this change isn’t really much of a change at all. According to a recent NPR article, “Oregonians Aren’t Pumped About New Law Allowing Self-Service Gas Stations,” rural stations had already been permitting self-service gas between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. for the past two years. It would seem that the the biggest dent made by this law, and the social media backfire it inspired, is in the Oregonian ego.