In his first winter in Massachusetts after moving from Washington, DC, Tom Emswiler's heart sank along with the sun at the unconscionably early hour of 4:11pm. "You can imagine my horror," the public health advocate tells NBC News. Now Emswiler is part of a commission studying the possibility of moving Massachusetts from the Eastern time zone to the Atlantic time zone, currently home to Puerto Rico and a number of eastern Canadian provinces, the Wall Street Journal reports. The change would add a fifth time zone to the contiguous US. Advocates say the switch, which would also do away with the twice-a-year daylight saving time switch, could boost the economy by keeping sunlight lovers in state and out shopping later, have public health benefits, and reduce crime.
Even supporters of the plan admit Massachusetts wouldn't be able to go it alone. To succeed, most of New England—and potentially New York—would have to make the switch, too, to lessen confusion for financial markets, TV schedules, and travelers. Maine, at least, appears to be on board. A bill recently passed the state legislature that would allow residents to vote on joining the Atlantic time zone and do away with daylight saving time, as long as Massachusetts and New Hampshire did the same, Quartz reports. "Why do we keep doing this to ourselves?" asks state Rep. Donna Bailey, who introduced the bill, regarding another dark winter in New England. There are, of course, potential drawbacks besides increased time-zone confusion. For one, schools would likely have to push start times back to keep kids who aren't "fully awake" from walking to school in the dark. (Read more time zones stories.)