Self-serve Gas Bill is Dead in NJ, For Now
Jersey Girls don't pump gas, and they won't have to.
Efforts to bring self-serve gas to the Garden State are essentially dead after State Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) says he does not support it.
Without Scutari's support, the bill to make self-serve an option in New Jersey will never see a vote in the upper house.
The issue of self-serve comes up every few years in New Jersey but was gaining traction this time around due to record high prices at the pumps.
Fuel merchants had been lobbying for the change, believing prices would drop at least 15-cents per gallon immediately and perhaps more as competition set in.
New Jersey is the last state in the nation that makes pumping your own gas illegal.
Assembly bill A3105 would let gas stations offer self-serve but require those with more than four dispensers to continue to have full-service gas pumps. There was bi-partisan support for the legislation.
“It's time to bring New Jersey up to speed with the rest of the country with this commonsense approach,” said Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline, C-Store, Automotive Association. “Over 300 million people already have the freedom to pump their gas. Why shouldn't the people of New Jersey be included?”
Scutari, however, pointed to a recent Rutgers-Eagleton poll that found the majority of state residents prefer having someone else pump their gas and questioned whether there would be any real savings to drivers.
"There is no data supporting any contention that moving to a self-service model would save residents money at the pump," Scutari told NJ Monitor.
Scutari did leave himself some wiggle room on the issue, saying if he is presented data supporting real savings for drivers, or if public sentiment changes, he would reconsider bringing the bill to a vote.
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said he would be "taking a look" at the issue, but was non-committal.
Gov. Phil Murphy also did not commit to supporting an end to the ban on self-serve gas, but seemed more receptive to the idea in recent weeks as gas prices have soared.
Previous reporting from Michael Symons was included in this story.