Senate votes down push to switch N.H.’s time zone

  • Times zones in North America. —Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 5/11/2017 6:23:16 PM

Sorry, Prince Edward Island – you’re a lovely place but your time zone is not for us.

That was the message Thursday from the New Hampshire state Senate, which decided, 15-7, that we shouldn’t switch to the time zone that covers most Maritime provinces of Canada, as an indirect way of ending the twice-annual clock switcheroo for daylight saving time.

The Senate was voting on a bill that previously passed by a voice vote in the House that would have New Hampshire adopt Atlantic standard time if Massachusetts does so. The Bay State is studying the issue.

The idea of moving coastal New England out of the Eastern time zone has been floated for years, but it drew particular attention from a 2014 Boston Globe opinion column by health advocate Tom Emswiler. He argued that the Eastern time zone, centered roughly on the longitude of Philadelphia, isn’t suitable for us because we’re too far east.

Emswiler argues that changing to the Atlantic time zone would help people’s mental and physical health by providing extra daylight during working hours in winter, while doing away with the need for the twice-a-year daylight saving time shift because we’d be more in sync with the sun.

This argument holds more sway in Maine, the nation’s easternmost state, where some cities see sunset as early as 3:50 p.m. in midwinter. That state’s legislature approved a similar bill this year, which also requires Massachusetts to decide first. Rhode Island’s Legislature is considering a similar follow-in-the-footsteps-of-Massachusetts proposal.

Opponents to the idea point out that being on a different time zone from New York City and Washington, D.C., for some five months a year would be a problem for businesses and families. Clocks in Atlantic standard time are the same as in Eastern daylight saving time, which lasts from March through November.

The New Hampshire Legislature has considered shifting time zones in previous years, but this is by far the most success the idea has had – presumably because this is the first time the proposal has been contingent on Massachusetts acting first, so we wouldn’t end up in a different time zone than the Boston area.

Actually changing time zones requires federal approval, so even if Massachusetts goes forward with the idea – which seems unlikely, according to experts – there would still be hurdles to cross.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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