Should Massachusetts Shift Time Zones?

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As the amount of daylight steadily decreases this time of year, people who live in the most eastern sections of the Eastern time zone face the prospect of incredibly early sunsets. Is there a way to change that time reality?

Tim Emswiler in The Boston Globe writes that the “idea of defecting from our time zone might seem strange. Yet the emerging science and the geographic reality of life in New England make it an idea worth serious consideration.”

Where would Massachusetts go? Emswiler suggests the Atlantic time zone, which is used in Canada’s maritime provinces, the Caribbean and good chunk of South America.

Switching to Atlantic Standard Time—essentially, keeping the clock an hour forward all year—wouldn’t be nearly as radical a change as it sounds. As it is, we’re actually only on Eastern Standard Time for about four months per year, from early November until early March. In the spring, summer, and early fall we’re on Eastern Daylight Time, which is the same as AST.

The idea resonated with many light-starved residents Massachusetts and elsewhere.

This isn’t the first time someone in New England has suggested a shift to the Atlantic time zone. In 2005, lawmakers in Maine considered a legislative proposal calling on the federal government to allow the state to shift time zones. Although it gained traction in committee, it failed to gain further traction in the state legislature.

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