"END ALASKA DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME"
LAST UPDATE: January 21, 2015
CHECK LATEST NEWS FOR UPDATES ON LEGISLATIVE EFFORT
All clocks must still change at 2:00AM on Sunday March 8,2015
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FEDERAL LAW ALLOWS ANY STATE TO OPT OUT OF USING DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME.
LATEST NEWS ON THE LEGISLATIVE EFFORT!
Senate Bill (SB) 6 and SB11 to repeal the use of DST in Alaska now each have two committee referrals in the Senate. Both have been referred to Senate State Affairs and Senate Finance. Either will end the use of DST in Alaska. The difference is in the bill language. SB6 will exempt Alaska during any period when DST is in effect to eliminate a potential problem if the dates when DST is used are changed again as they were in 2007. SB11 will exempt DST during the current period of use now specified by the Federal Government. Contact your legislator (see below) and ask for hearings, then please testify in person or in writing on either bill.
DOZEN REASONS WE DON'T NEED DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME IN ALASKA:
1. We live in the "Land of the Midnight Sun" with plenty of daylight for everyone.
2. Instant time change disturbs sleep patterns,impacting health and lifestyle,so who needs "state sponsored jet lag" twice each year.
3. There simply is no longer any compelling reason to impact 700,000 Alaskans, twice yearly. with DST.
4. Where is a there any "daylight saving" because for every hour you delay sunset you also delay sunrise.
5. Wait a week and get more daylight anyway because most Alaskans gain 1 hour of natural daylight in the week DST starts
6. Modern communications technology and use of the internet allow business transactions 24/7.
7. Airlines and other international business use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) for operations which does not recognize DST.
8. Saving Energy is the official purpose for DST yet no Alaska utility claims a savings of energy because of the use of DST.
9. Most outside security lighting fixtures now operate on photo cells which respond to daylight, not time of day.
10. Changing time keeping devices to regulate temperature in commercial buildings is an added expense.
11. Changing the time of sunset or sunrise cannot control the tides or weather for work or recreation during daylight hours.
12. Even "The Nennana Ice Classic" ignores DST and marks the winning time using Alaska Standard Time
OF TIME ZONES AND THE IMPACT OF DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME (DST) IN
Use of time zones allows the position of the Sun to approximate the time of the day which is the principal behind the Sun Dial. Arbitrary Time Zones became necessary when the relatively rapid movement from East to West by railroad made observation of local 'Sun Time' impractical. The Railroads simply could not manage train movements if every town along an East-West route had a different clock setting based on the position of the Sun.
Prior to 1983 the State of Alaska was spanned by four time zones (Yukon, Alaska, Bering and Aleutian); however, Southeast Alaska, including the State Capital in Juneau, was in the Pacific Time Zone with Seattle where it had remained since WWII after being moved from the Yukon Time Zone. Before the time zone change, traveling East to West across Alaska when it was 12:00 PM in the Pacific Time Zone, you would have found Juneau in the Pacific Time Zone (12:00PM), a small region around Yakutat in the Yukon Time Zone (1:00PM), Anchorage and Fairbanks in the Alaska Time Zone( 2:00PM), Bethel, Nome, and Kotzebue in the Bering Time Zone (3:00 PM), and the Aleutian Islands in the Aleutian Time Zone (4:00 PM).
That all changed in Alaska when the Federal Government allowed Alaska to merge into a single 'mega' time zone (defined as a new Alaska Time Zone) with a second smaller time zone created at the far Western end of the Aleutian Islands which shared the time zone as Hawaii. The motive for this change was an effort to moot the criticism that the Capital in Juneau, located in the Pacific Time Zone, was two hours ahead of Anchorage and Fairbanks.
This change was accomplished by actually placing all of Alaska into the former Yukon Time Zone redefined as the new Alaska Time Zone. To accomplish this in 1983, Southeast set clocks back 1 hour, South central advanced clocks 1 hour, Western Alaska advanced clocks 2 hours and the new Aleutian Time Zone was changed to match the time in Hawaii. This is why the time is the same in Alaska from Kotzebue to Juneau.
Daylight Saving Time was introduced to Alaska in 1967 and has been observed since. A consequence of continuing to observe DST after the 1983 time zone change was that, for everywhere except Southeast Alaska the original intent of time zones to allow an approximate alignment between the position of the Sun and the time of day was lost. That alignment was not lost in Southeast Alaska. In fact Southeast Alaska wound up back in their original Time Zone by leaving the Pacific Time Zone in 1983. However, that was not true for most other Alaskans. For example, advancing clocks one hour in Fairbanks and Anchorage in 1983 caused the Noon Hour on a sundial to occur at 1:00PM. Advancing clocks one hour is how you observe daylight saving time, so after the 1983 change, South Central Alaska was on permanent daylight saving time and whereas the sun had been highest at Noon in Anchorage, now noon 'sun time' was at 1:00PM. Add that additional hour when we 'spring forward' to observe DST and the Sun is at the highest position in sky at 2:00PM in Anchorage/Fairbanks and 3:00PM in Bethel/Nome/ Kotzebue. This creates what is described as 'double daylight saving' by Ned Rozell in his excellent article 'Alaskans Double Their Daylight Savings'.
AND DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME IN ALASKA
The official reason the Federal Government allows the use of Daylight Saving Time is to save energy. I live in the Cook Inlet region. Several years ago I contacted ENSTAR Natural Gas, Matanuska Electric,and the Regulatory Commission of Alaska regarding energy savings from use of DST. None of these agencies had any historical data relating to energy saving and the use of DST. The consensus was that because of our rapidly changing length of day, Daylight Saving Time can have little impact on energy consumption. Air temperature and extended periods of darkness impact energy usage in Alaska - not changing the time on your clock.
BUSINESS AND DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME IN ALASKA
Given the improvements in information technology since 1967 (when Daylight Saving Time was introduced in Alaska), do we still need to be concerned with contacting a business only when someone will be available to answer their desk phone? The internet was not available in 1967. International commerce often uses GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) which never changes; however, a local time change can impact business performance when worker hours need to be adjusted to compensate for the onset of DST. For example scheduled aircraft from Japan or China will arrive in Anchorage one hour later on the day DST is implemented which affects scheduling of work.
Alaska does business both to the East and to the West. Nations of the Pacific Rim including China, Japan, and South Korea do not use DST neither does the State of Hawaii or most of the Province of Saskatchewan. So if contact during normal business hours is a factor, moving one hour forward does not automatically benefit all business relationships.
PUBLIC HEALTH/SAFETY AND DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME IN ALASKA
Our bodies develop a rhythm or pattern of periods or wakefulness and fatigue which is called the circadian rhythm. Some individuals are very sensitive to interruption of that circadian rhythm and that interruption impacts health and productivity. Daylight Saving Time is implemented on a Sunday morning to lessen this impact. That doesn't help people who work on weekend nights. Also, not all individuals can re-adjust to a earlier waking hour by Monday morning when most return to work or school. A New England Journal of Medicine article in 2008 published the results of a study in Sweden of their population (which lives in the Northern Latitudes) showing a 5% increase in myocardial infarction (heart attack) in days following onset of DST. This is attributed to disturbances in sleep patterns. School kids may have a particularly difficult time adjusting to the time change and now there is now an additional safety concern with school bus transport. In 2007 the Federal Government moved the start time for the period of use of Daylight Saving Time from the first Sunday in April back to the the first Sunday in March and the end of the DST period was extended from the last Sunday in October to the first Sunday in November. This has now pushed the time of sunrise in most of Alaska well into the morning hours which causes all residents, including children waiting for school buses, with having to deal with extended periods of morning darkness. At a previous hearing on repeal of DST held on March 16,2009 before House Labor and Commerce the minutes will show at 4:06:15 PM the Anchorage School District testified in support of ending DST in Alaska.
SO WHY DO WE STILL USE DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME IN ALASKA?
The opposition to repeal comes mostly from Southeast Alaska perhaps more because of the resentment of being removed from the Pacific Time Zone, in 1983 than a desire to change clocks twice each year. Also, Daylight Saving Time only "works" for delaying the time of sunset in any perceptible way in temperate latitudes where the extreme change to day length is not so pronounced as in most of Alaska. The proponents of using Daylight Saving Time in the "lower 48" will oppose the largest state in the Union ending use of DST in Alaska because repeal in Alaska might encourage other states to join the repeal effort and join Hawaii and Arizona where DST is already not observed. In the past these folks have attempted to make participaton in DST appear to be a patriotic duty.
There have been two statewide public surveys with both of them showing overall public support to end this clock changing. A 2004 Dittman Research Poll asked 505 Alaskans from across the state this question:" Do you support Alaska switching to Daylight Saving Time for the summer and then switching back in the fall, or should we leave our clocks the same throughout the year? Results were "Unsure" 5%, "Switch Clocks" 37%, "Keep Same all Year" 58%. A 2005 Hellenthal and Associates Survey of 323 Alaskans across the state posed this question: Do you favor or oppose doing away with Daylight Saving Time and staying on the same time throughout the year?" Results were "Favor" 49.9%, "Oppose" 36.6% and "Don't Know" 13.5%.
An initiative process was attempted in 2007 and while thousands of signatures were gathered the organizers simply did not have the financial resources to gather the requisite signatures statewide in the time allowed.
This latest legislative repeal effort joins several other attempts since 1999. There has been HB4 (1999 - 21st Legislature); HB409(2002 - 22nd Legislature); HB176 and SB120 (2005 -24th Legislature) and HB19 (2009 -25th Legislature). Every one of these bills died when various single committee chairpersons, with no explanation given or required, simply held these bills to death before various committees of referral. A review of the testimony allowed will show that nobody could produce a compelling reason to keep using Daylight Saving in the "Land of the Midnight Sun". Should 700,000 Alaskans be impacted directly twice each year by a law that has no compelling reason to exist? Perhaps the location of this decision making process to end the use of DST explains how the opponents of repeal have persevered by political maneuvering in far away Juneau. Public participation in this effort will make the difference.