By Andy Rose, CNN
(CNN) — All gas stations in Oregon can now allow customers to pump their own gas under a new law signed Friday, lifting a ban on self-service in the state dating back to 1951.
The new law, House Bill 2426, signed Friday by Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek went into effect immediately, leaving New Jersey as the only state in the US where service station customers can’t pump their own fuel.
The law does not phase out full service completely in Oregon’s 16 most populous counties. It requires that no more than half of pumps at any service station be self-serve, and that at least one gas station employee in those communities be available at all times to pump gas. Stations cannot charge more for full service.
While Oregon had banned self-service, the state did allow for exceptions in smaller communities and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The full service requirement has historically been a contentious topic in Oregon and New Jersey, with reasons given for sticking with the old mandate ranging from flammable liquid safety to preserving the jobs of gas station attendants.
“This bill is clear favoritism for big oil companies over the interests of workers,” said Dan Clay, president of UFCW Local 555, the union that represents grocery store workers in Oregon.
In Kotek’s signing statement, she acknowledged that only a “narrow majority” of people who had written to her since the bill’s passage were in favor of the law.
One driver, Steven Brown, told CNN affiliate KATU that he knows how to pump gas himself, but plans to stick with an attendant’s help.
“Not so interested in self-serve because I’m old. I mean, it’s actually a job to get out and pump your own gas,” Brown said.
Other drivers, including those from other states, said they were happy to have the option.
“It being busy and having to wait on the gas station attendants was sometimes really annoying. So, having it as an option is sweet,” California native Erik Atienza told KATU at a service station in Portland.
In New Jersey – where it’s been illegal for drivers to pump their own gas since 1949 – the self-service ban, along with the state’s reputation for low gas prices, is part of its culture. One popular bumper sticker in the state proclaims “Jersey Girls Don’t Pump Gas.”
The state’s residents have little interest in self-service. A 2022 poll found that 73% of them say they prefer having their gas pumped for them.
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CNN’s Nathaniel Meyersohn contributed to this report.