A slight amendment to a seemingly obscure Oregon law that went into effect on Jan. 1 made national headlines last week.
Oregon’s House Bill 2482, which allows individuals in counties of 40,000 or less to pump their own gas at any time of the day, was an amendment to ORS 480.341 which said individuals could pump their own gas in these same rural counties after 6 p.m. and before 6 a.m. The “sun-up to sun-down” rule as one local gas attendant put it.
This law impacts half of the counties in Oregon but only seven percent of all residents. While this small change to a small law that effects counties of small populations did not drastically change anything, it made big waves across social media in the opening days of the year.
After KTVL, a CBS affiliate in Medford, shared an article about the change on their Facebook page, the story took off. Their post received over 61,000 shares and 54,000 comments and was referenced in stories by new outlets across the country including The Seattle Times, The Washington Post and USA Today.
The headlines that accompanied these articles used words and phrases such as ‘panic’ and ‘Oregonians losing their minds.’
While there was a sense of joy from people outside of Oregon in seeing Oregonians online go into a brief hysteria about the prospect and nuance of having to pump their own gas, the reality is that just a small portion of individuals will be impacted. Amidst the hubbub, there were individuals in Cottage Grove who were also perplexed by the change.
“There’s been a lot confusion. There’s been a lot of questions, people showing up not knowing what to do. Just hanging around, ‘do we do it, do you do it?’ kind of thing.” said gas attendant Dalton Pardun who works at the Chevron in town that is just off of I-5.
“And especially the out-of-staters are even worse because they catch word that hey, we can do it and then it becomes a stand-off thing. [They’re] like, ‘why are you here, what are you doing?’”
Attendants from other gas stations around the city also noted an uptick in questions from customers about who should be filling up their car.
Lane County's population was last marked at over 300,000 residents, making it exempt from the new law and requiring the continued use of gas attendents.