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JOANNA WEISS | decoder

Let’s ditch Eastern Standard Time

AFP/Getty Images/file 2010

This Sunday marks the most depressing day of the year for the people of Massachusetts, and not just because we’ll be nursing a Halloween hangover. At 2 a.m., the clock falls back, tearing us from daylight saving time and plunging us into the dark world of Eastern Standard.

There is another way — and it begins, as these things can, with a plan for a new state commission. Really. The idea comes from Quincy resident Tom Emswiler, who moved here from the Washington, D.C., area a few years ago . . . and was horrified when, mid-fall, the sun started setting at 4 p.m.

“I knew that I was moving north, but I didn’t realize I was moving this far east,” Emswiler said. In the Globe last year, he proposed that Massachusetts switch to Atlantic Standard Time — effectively keeping daylight time year-round.

The response was so positive that Emswiler saw an opening: He worked with his state senator, John Keenan, to file a bill that would study the issue. Yes, Emswiler concedes, it would make more sense if all of New England took part. But the time zone map is full of zigs and zags, with boundaries built around state borders and commuter routes, not longitudinal lines. And daylight time is already encroaching on the darkness; in 2005, then-US Representative Ed Markey led a push to extend it for several weeks.


Would objections come? Maybe from the early-morning exercise crowd — and it wouldn’t be ideal to have kids walking to school at 7 a.m. in the dark. But Emswiler notes that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that schools start later, anyway. “Maybe the commission could study that,” he said. Good ideas can have a ripple effect.