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Sweeney clashes with lobbyists on self-service gas pumps in NJ

 Attendant James Lewis pumps gas at a station in Portland, Oregon, last month. Oregon and New Jersey are the only states where motorists aren't allowed to pump their own gas.  Now the Oregon Legislature appears ready to at least let people driving through rural Oregon pump their own. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Attendant James Lewis pumps gas at a station in Portland, Oregon, last month. Oregon and New Jersey are the only states where motorists aren't allowed to pump their own gas. Now the Oregon Legislature appears ready to at least let people driving through rural Oregon pump their own. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

A lobbying group that’s opposed self-service gas stations in New Jersey for three decades now wants drivers to have that option.

The marketplace has changed in the 30 years since the group first opposed self-service at the pumps, said Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience Store, and Automotive Association.. He believes many motorists would welcome the change.

“There are many gas pumps that are actually closed because of a lack of manpower, and customers sometimes feel frustrated,” he said during a Senate Budget Committee hearing. “They’d like to pull to another pump that’s open, fill their car, and get on their way.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney disagrees.

“When it’s snowing, no one is clamoring to pump their own gas. When it’s raining, no one is clamoring to pump their own gas,” he said. “When it’s 15 degrees out, no one is clamoring to pump their own gas.”

Sweeney says the bill could result in the loss of jobs.

Senate Budget Committee Paul Sarlo, one of the sponsors of the measure, said he doesn’t believe it would have a big impact on employment.

“Will it cost jobs? Most stations have one person there anyway right now,” he said. “So they’re still going to have one person there.”

Sweeney says he won’t post the bill for a vote.

Only Oregon also bars consumers from pumping their own gas, and lawmakers there are considering easing that ban.

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