Joshua Dillen
The Baker City Herald

Two years after Oregon began allowing drivers in rural counties, including Baker, to pump their own fuel during certain hours, the law is changing to allow self-service fueling around the clock in some cases.

Oregon is one of two states — New Jersey is the other — that generally don’t allow gas customers to pump their own gas.

But a law that took effect Jan. 1, 2016, allowed drivers to refuel their tanks between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. in the 18 counties with populations less than 40,000.

During the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers expanded the self-service option — which is optional for stations, not mandatory — to 24 hours a day effective Jan. 1, 2018.

However, stations that allow customers to pump their own fuel must have an attendant available to pump gas from 6 a.m. through 6 p.m. if the station, as most do, also has other retail sales, such as a food store.

The bottom line, then, is that stations can choose to offer self-service fueling around the clock, but most will still have to have employees available to pump gas between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Tony Jacoby, manager at the 24-hour Maverik station on Campbell Street in Baker City, said the transition to offering self-serve fueling went smoothly.

Out-of-state customers, who are accustomed to pumping fuel, have been more likely to since it took effect two years, he said.

“Quite a few people take advantage of it,” he said. “Ninety percent of Maveriks are in other states where it’s self-serve already ... They kind of expect it.”

Local customers are also taking advantage of pumping their own gas.

Although Maverik will allow customers to pump fuel around the clock when the new law takes effect Monday, Jacoby said the station will always have employees available to pump gas.

“If the disabled or elderly come in and they can’t do it themselves, we can still jump out and help them,” he said.

Maverik will not lay off any attendants when the new expanded law takes effect, Jacoby said. He said attendants will be given other duties at the store when needed.

“It’s going to be interesting. It’s going to be a challenge,” Jacoby said. “Maverik does not like letting anybody go if they don’t have to.”

Keeping his staff fully employed is the reason Kurt Miller, owner of the Baker Truck Corral on Campbell Street, has no plans to offer self-service gas at his business — one of three 24-hour gas stations in Baker City.

“I’m not going to be reducing labor,” Miller said. “I’ve got people that count on us for a livelihood. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure those people have jobs.”

See more in the Dec. 29, 2017, issue of the Baker City Herald.