He's fine with Eastern Standard Time, and he's good with Daylight Saving Time.
What state Rep. Pete Lucido hates is switching back and forth twice a year.
"It's not about the actual time. It's about changing that hour. That's what causes all the trouble," said the Shelby Township Republican, who greets what is coming at 2 a.m. Sunday — when Michiganders and most other Americans must set their clocks ahead one hour — with a mix of dread and chagrin.
By "all the trouble," he means everything from more traffic accidents, more on-the-job injuries, more seizures, heart attacks and strokes, as well as drowsy schoolkids, upset dairy cows and now — according to a new study at Boston University Medical Center — higher miscarriage rates among women undergoing in vitro fertilization.
"Anybody who wants to continue this is cuckoo," declared Lucido.
He’s undeterred by the long list of Michigan lawmakers from both parties who've tried and failed to get what he’s after: an end to Michigan’s clock-changing tradition.
The very thought of the time change had Lucido sounding like he's short of sleep. Get him started on this, and you might want to take off your watch, pour some coffee.
"This has bothered me as long as I can remember!” he fairly shouted into the phone, before reciting a litany of rationales and studies for ending the time changes that began more than a century ago.
Lucido said he became persuaded of the needless expense and human cost of the time change while working for 30 years as a lawyer advising his family’s insurance company about the rash of workers comp cases that arose from workplace injuries after each time change.
"If you’re working with heavy equipment, or on an assembly line or even just doing an intense mental activity, you’re not on your game," after the time shift, he said. The reason, sleep researchers say, is that humans and most other mammals have very specific body clocks, and when they're suddenly disrupted by an hour — in either direction, but especially in March's sleep-depriving change — what breaks loose is a behavioral form of all H-E-double-hockey-sticks.
Lucido will try again this legislative session, but with a new twist. Unlike previous lawmakers’ attempts, he won't try to eliminate Daylight Saving Time, or DST. Instead, he’d keep it all the time. He’d eliminate what Michigan soon will leave, which is Eastern Standard Time, or EST.
Makes sense, said former state Rep. Jeff Irwin, a Democrat from Ann Arbor who in two previous legislative sessions sponsored a bill to end Daylight Saving Time.
"I must say, the recreation industry got to me and said, 'Why not go to Daylight Saving all year? That would be good for golfing and outdoor cafes and all kinds of activities because you'd have more evening hours' " of light, Irwin said.
His bill went nowhere. Yet, this year there are similar bills in 23 state legislatures around the country.
"I think we've reached the tipping point" for ending the time changes, said Scott Yates, 52, a Denver dot-com millionaire who is semi-retired and devoted to ending time changes. Yates operates www.sco.tt/time, which lists studies showing the fallacies and pitfalls of the fall-and-spring time change.
Last week, Yates testified before the Nebraska Legislature about why the time change doesn't do what it's supposed to do — help farmers and save energy. He spoke right after a teenage boy told legislators that he has had 13 grand mal seizures in his life, and that nine of them occurred soon after a time change. Next week, Yates plans to speak about the futility of the time change before a committee of the Colorado General Assembly, he said.
"A lot of people think we do it for the farmers," Yates said, as he drove home through 300 miles of rural Nebraska. "Actually, the farmers all hate it. The dairy farmers really hate it. Their milk production is all goofed up for the week after every time change," he said.
The time shifts — first suggested by Benjamin Franklin in 1784 — began during World War I in Germany, supposedly to save energy during a wartime coal shortage. Yates said. And some energy studies do indeed show a savings, including a prominent one funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. But that one is called a "heuristic study," meaning it was an educated guess based on data from large and small electric utilities, although none in Michigan. And it studied the effect of just the four extra weeks that Congress had added that year, 2007, to DST.
A better study was published in 2011 by two economists who looked at the state of Indiana because it was a perfect test tube. Indiana for years allowed many of its counties to practice DST, while many others ignored the time change. But in 2006, the state required all counties to begin using DST, creating an ideal comparison of before and after. The authors, economists from Yale and the University of California at Santa Barbara, did not mince words.
"Our main finding is that, contrary to the policy's intent, DST increases electricity demand. ... We estimate a cost to Indiana households of $9 million per year in increased electricity bills. We also estimate the social costs of increased pollution emissions between $1.7 (million) to $5.5 million per year," concluded the study by Matthew Kotchen and Laura Grant. They used data from more than 223,000 homes, showing that although energy consumption for lighting dropped slightly when Daylight Saving Time was in effect, consumption for heating and cooling increased by 2% to 4%. Bottom line? No energy saving for DST.
Despite that finding, many of those with strong feelings said they'd like to stay on Daylight Saving Time all the time, ignoring the energy cost in favor of the practical benefits. Like Michigan's lawmakers Lucido and Irwin, Yates said his several years of reviewing data led him to think that most states should do that.
Michiganders, at the western edge of the nation's Eastern time zone, are an exception. We might prefer staying with EST year-round, he said.
"If Michigan did that, you'd have the same daylight that Boston or New York have on savings time," Yates said.
Either way, sticking with one time or the other would end the accident-prone spring-and-fall time changes. And that would mean, in Yates' view, that we'd no longer "impose the equivalent of jet lag twice a year on the entire population."
Contact Bill Laitner: email@example.com
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