Nov 3, 2023 - Culture

Permanent daylight saving time fizzles in Utah

Illustration of a clock moving backwards. The hands of the clock are made out of the Axios logo.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Utahns will join most of the nation this weekend in setting back their clocks — a yearly ritual that probably won't end anytime soon.

  • A yearslong push for permanent daylight saving time has largely stalled, both in Utah and nationally.

Why it matters: The semiannual clock resets have been controversial since they began in 1918 — an effort to conserve energy during World War I.

  • Now medical experts say standard time is more aligned with our body clocks — and the yearly "spring forward" is linked to annual spikes in heart attacks, strokes and car wrecks.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Americans want to stop changing their clocks, according to a 2021 Economist/YouGov poll.

Details: Researchers have found that daylight saving doesn't actually conserve much energy, but retailers defend it, saying people shop more in the evenings when there is still daylight.

  • Some supporters of permanent daylight saving time say the extra hour of evening sun would allow more outdoor fun in winter. But the ski industry objects, saying resorts would have to open later because mornings will be too dark for avalanche control.

Zoom in: Utah is on the west side of its time zone, so the sun rises and sets relatively late even during standard time.

Catch up quick: In 2022, our orbit seemed fixed toward permanent daylight savings time, with the Sunshine Protection Act passing the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent.

  • But the measure stalled in the U.S. House, and similar legislation this year fizzled in committees.
  • Meanwhile, after years of proposals for permanent daylight savings, Utah lawmakers did not mention the time change during this year's legislative session.

State of play: Under a 2020 law, Utah is set to switch to permanent daylight saving time — now observed from March to November — if Congress permits it.

  • Federal law allows states to adopt permanent standard time but requires congressional approval to switch to year-round daylight saving time.
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