BEND, OR -- Internet trolls are out in full force, claiming drivers across the state are confused and angry over the new self-serve gas law that took effect Monday. But, Rich Hoover, with the State Fire Marshal's Office, says the truth behind the new self-serve law isn’t quite as entertaining. "Pretty much our regulations haven’t changed at all. HB 2482, which went into effect at the first of January, the intent of it is merely to allow more access to fuel in low population eastern Oregon counties." Oregon's Fire Marshal's Office oversees compliance of safety rules for dispensing flammable liquids, like gasoline.
Hoover tells KBND News, "It allows those counties – and these are counties with 40,000 people or less – it allows retail gas stations to have self-service gasoline; 24-hours a day, seven days a week, they can allow self-serve." A law passed by the 2016 Legislature that took effect a year ago allowed low-population counties to offer self-serve gas only during the overnight hours, between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. "There are three designated eastern Oregon counties that are excluded from this because of the population counts: that is Deschutes County, Klamath County and Umatilla County," says Hoover. As of 2015, Deschutes County's population was estimated at over 175,000.
The new law also allows card-lock gas stations to expand to retail sales, but owners must notify the Fire Marshal's Office 90-days in advance. Hoover says gas stations were sent notices of the new rules after the bill was signed by the Governor, last summer; when in doubt, ask. "Really, the retail fuel operators should know what the rules are, and it could be as simple as the customer asking them, ‘can I or can’t I pump my own gas?’." He admits much of the uproar stems from the internet, "I think the rest of the country has a lot of fun poking fun of Oregon and their gas dispensing rules."