NJ considers allowing self-service gas stations as prices surge

The debate about whether drivers in New Jersey should be able to pump their own gas is heating up as prices skyrocket.

A group of bipartisan legislators introduced a bill on Monday that would allow drivers in the state to have the option for self-service at gas stations.

This comes as fuel station owners say they are struggling with staff shortages and rising prices.

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The Bill, A3105, or the Motorist Fueling Choice and Convenience Act, sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Carol A. Murphy and Republican Assemblymen Edward H. Thomson and Robert D. Clifton, would allow stations to have self-service gas pumps, with some limitations.

Gas stations would still be able to offer full service along with the self-service pumps, but stations with more than four pumps would be required to have an attendant between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to offer full-service, according to the bill.

Backers of the bill claim that allowing self-service will allow more stations to station open in the evening.

Petroleum prices

The bill allows gas stations to sell self-serve gas and full-service gas at the same price or offer a lower price for self-service.

If the measure does pass, backers of the legislation claim that drivers in the state could save up to 15 cents per gallon.

Since 1949, New Jersey has adhered to the full-service gasoline dispensing model, despite 49 other states fully or partially allowing self-service, the bill notes.

It also recognizes that electric car owners are allowed to plug in their own vehicles to charge them across the state.

Gov. Phil Murphy has not indicated whether he supports the measure, saying it deserved to be studied.

Gasoline prices have surged for the past several weeks in New Jersey and across the country.  Much of the blame is put on Russia invading Ukraine, but there were already shortfalls of oil in the market after demand increased and production had not returned to pre-pandemic levels.