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Ban on New Jersey Residents Pumping Their Own Gas Revisited

by Victoria Marie Moyeno
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To pump or not to pump. One of the things that make New Jersey, well, New Jersey, is the fact that we do not pump our own gas – the only state that doesn’t. As simple as that may be, it is one of the most notorious debates in the state’s history. For 73 years, New Jerseyans have relied on gas stations attendants to fill their cars with gas, rather than do it themselves. The ban on pumping our own gas has been revisited by state lawmakers who put forth a bill this week that could end the ban. Read on for what we know about the “Motorist Fueling Choice and Convenience Act” bill that would lead Garden State residents to pump their own gas.

Motorist Fueling Choice and Convenience Act

On Monday, February 28th, the “Motorist Fueling Choice and Convenience Act” was presented by a group of bipartisan legislators, was backed by the. The bill is sponsored by Assemblyman Ned Thomson, R-Monmouth, Assemblywoman Anette Chaparro, D-Hudson, and Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, D-Burlington, NJ.com explained. The bill is backed by the New Jersey Gasoline Convenience Automotive Association, which represents over 1,500 small businesses throughout New Jersey including car washes, service stations, and convenience stores.

The crux of the bill is a proposed hybrid system that allows for the option of offering self-serve gas while requiring stations with four or more pumps to continue to offer full service.

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The ban on New Jersayans pumping their own gas went into effect in 1949. The argument was that it was a safety hazard and would make it nearly impossible for the elderly population to do service themselves, and over the years it become one of those things that separates New Jersey from other states. To combat one of those concerns, the new bill proposes that any station with only self-serve gas must have a service to help disabled drivers at no extra charge.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been debates over the years on what New Jerseyans should do and don’t do regarding self-service at gas stations. The initiative to remove the ban just never came to fruition in part because the last two long-reigning governors did not support removing the ban, including current governor Phil Murphy. He has not released a statement in response to the bill yet, but he may, and though he didn’t support the idea in the past, doesn’t mean he hasn’t changed his position on it.

“Motorists in every other state are able to pump their own gas, and if a consumer wants to choose to not wait for an attendant, that choice should not be denied to them by state law,” says state Assemblyman Ned Thomson, R-Monmouth via on the subject.

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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,” Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, D-Burlington added.

The New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association, the industry’s trade group, estimates stations could knock off 15 cents a gallon if allowed to offer self-service, NJ.com reported.

There’s no indication as of yet on where the bill will land. It would need to be approved by both the Senate and Assembly and signed by Governor Murphy to become law. If the bill becomes law, it would take 90 days to go into effect. We will keep you updated as more details unfold.

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