A bill that would allow self-service gas at rural stations between 6 PM and 6 AM when no attendant is present has passed unanimously in the House. The bill (HB 3011), sponsored by State Representative Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario), applies only to counties with fewer than 40,000 people. Bentz said he expects the bill to pass unanimously in the Senate in the next few weeks.
“The issue here is the issue of access to fuel,” said Bentz. “This bill is designed to allow people to drive up in the dead of night when there’s nobody there and put a card in the machine and pump some gas.”
Gas stations in remote, sparsely populated areas can’t afford to pay an attendant to be on duty 24 hours a day. “If you’re in Lakeview or John Day, these towns close up at six o’clock and everybody goes home,” Bentz said. “If you’re driving through as many, many tourists do, and you need gas, you’re stuck until stations reopen in the morning.” Bentz pointed out that tourism is one of the few economic enterprises still in eastern OR and it’s important to supply appropriate service to tourists.
Fuel access is also a matter of public safety. Police and fire vehicles need to have to access fuel at all times.
Some might oppose this bill because they are opposed to self-service gas in general, but Bentz says this bill isn’t about whether or not self-service is a good idea across the state. “If people someday want to have self-serve over in the populated part of the state, well that’s up to them. But this is to try to address an issue of having access to fuel which we currently don’t have.” There was no opposition voiced during the House floor hearing on this House Bill 3011.