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New Jersey, Oregon working on bills that would let drivers pump their own gas

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New Jersey, Oregon working on bills that would let drivers pump their own gas
New Jersey and Oregon are the only two remaining states in which drivers are not permitted to pump their own gasoline at fuel stations. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

March 4 (UPI) -- Perhaps influenced by labor shortages nationwide, lawmakers in New Jersey and Oregon are working on bills that would legally allow drivers in both states to start pumping their own gas at fuel stations.

New Jersey and Oregon are the only two remaining states that bar drivers from getting their own gas. The old laws were intended to keep drivers from mishandling potentially flammable gasoline.

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But now, labor shortages ushered in by COVID-19 and market forces have both states reconsidering the law.

"When we pull into a fueling station right now, half of the pumps are closed down and they have garbage cans or cones in front of them," Oregon state Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis said according to The Hill. "They don't have enough attendants to service all of them."

According to AAA, the average cost for gas in Oregon is $4.28 and in New Jersey it's $3.89, according to AAA. File Photo by Eduardo Sverdlin/UPI

The Oregon bill would have stations offer both full service and self service -- and New Jersey is considering a hybrid option that lets drivers get their own gas if there are fewer than four pumps at a station. Stations with five or more pumps would be required to have attendants distribute the gas.

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The New Jersey bill is supported by the New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association, a trade group that estimates that stations could cut up to 15 cents per gallon off the cost of gas by offering self-service.

"Simply put, this bill will provide choice, convenience and cost savings to New Jersey drivers," New Jersey Assemblywoman Carol Murphy said, according to WKXW Radio.

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"By providing a hybrid model, we can give consumers the option to do what they prefer when it comes to filling their gas tanks, while also giving them the opportunity to save money."

Both bills come at a time when, in addition to labor shortages, stations are also being hit by rising oil prices. AAA said this week that the national average for gas is $3.72 per gallon. Some parts of California have gas going for over $5 per gallon.

AAA says the average cost for a gallon of gas in Oregon is $4.28 and $3.89 in New Jersey.

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