Angela EckhardtQuickPoint!

The revelation that Portland recently had the lowest average gasoline price in the country led The Oregonian to editorialize on Monday that Oregon’s ban on self-serve gas does not raise prices and is therefore acceptable public policy. The opinion poked fun at conspiracy theories surrounding industry motives for lowering the region’s prices.

Clearly, cutting operating costs could push prices even lower, but cost is a minor issue compared to the threat to freedom that a self-serve ban poses. Forty-eight other states allow self-serve gas, but Oregon’s law requires motorists to have professional assistance in order to fill up. The law is rationalized on the basis of safety, though it is clear no one actually believes pumping gas is dangerous.

Nevertheless, the law sets the terrible precedent of prohibiting the public from handling a potentially dangerous material. The problem is especially significant given the modern misguided drive for safety over freedom.

Within the context of fuel, Oregonians must be wary of new legislation that would prevent individuals from making their own biofuel. There are powerful interest groups, like the soy-checkoff funded National Biodiesel Board, that oppose small scale “homemade” production of biodiesel on safety grounds. They’d rather people purchase biofuels than seize this opportunity for self-sufficiency and independence.

I’ve made biodiesel many times; it’s very easy and safe if basic precautions are followed. Humans have successfully handled dangerous materials for many, many centuries, and Oregon should not pretend otherwise.

Incidentally, The Oregonian should investigate whether petroleum prices have dropped in areas where biofuels are advancing before it joins the conspiracy denial chorus. Otherwise readers might assume media bias prevents criticism of big oil.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

 
Categories: QuickPoints!
Tags:

Other Publications by Angela

This Labor Day, Celebrate the Rights of All Workers

Angela Eckhardt | September 2, 2013
By Paul R. Farago and Angela Eckhardt This is a slightly updated version of a Commentary the authors originally published in August 2000. In 1887 Oregon ...  read more

More On These Topics

Tennessee Special Needs Kids Get Choices in Education

Kathryn Hickok | May 20, 2015
Tennessee just became the 28th state to enact a private school choice program, giving parents more options for their children’s education. Governor Bill Haslam signed ...  read more

June 1st Public Debate: Do Citizens in a Free Society Have a Right to Privacy in Charitable Giving?

Steve Buckstein | May 12, 2015
Do you donate to any nonprofit organizations such as charities, churches, or think tanks? Would you rather not be subject to possible retribution for supporting ...  read more

Event Video - Aging Roads? New Ideas!

Cascade welcomed transportation expert Adrian Moore, Ph.D., Vice President of Policy for Reason Foundation, at a special event at Multnomah Athletic Club on April 29, ...  read more