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One more hour a day is needed

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In an effort to decrease energy demands, the states of California and Washington are considering extending Daylight Saving Time year-round, meaning it would always stay lighter later.

If such a plan were to be put into effect, it would mean that this October people in these states would not "fall back." That would cost them the usual extra hour's sleep to get ready for the winter, but it would also mean that next April they wouldn't have to "spring forward" and lose an hour's sleep to get ready for the summer.

Proponents for keeping Daylight Saving Time all the time insist that plenty of energy would be conserved. They point to the 18 months in 1974 and 1975, following the Arab oil embargo, when Daylight Saving Time operated around the clock. The Department of Transportation determined that 1.2 million barrels of oil were saved and less electricity and natural gas was consumed, contributing to an estimated 1 to 2 percent energy decrease across the board.

Energy conservation was also the reason America went to full time Daylight Saving Time during both World War I and World War II.

Opponents who don't want to keep Daylight Saving Time year-round — or at all for that matter — suggest that there should be more light in the morning and there are too many a.m. traffic accidents when people drive in the dark.

Personally, and I'll admit this is from the point of view of a non-morning person, I like the idea of staying with Daylight Saving Time all year round. I'd gladly trade one hour's sleep this October for more late light all winter long. An extra hour of evening light per day and I might finally clean the garage.

I like it light at night. And if it means a decrease in energy consumption, so much the better.

I was curious how others who might be affected by a continual Daylight Saving Time situation might react.

First I called the Utah Farm Bureau. Maybe farmers would hate having extra light all year long.

Booth Wallentine, CEO of the Utah Farm Bureau, set me straight on that point. "The farmer's only concern is consistency," he said. "Dairy farmers in particular don't like it if you keep changing the animal's milking times. But I have to tell you there is not nearly the level of concern (with Daylight Saving) that there once was. We just aren't hearing it anymore."

I next called the Utah Hotel & Lodging Association, wondering if they might prefer earlier evenings so people would pull of the highway sooner and bed down. Ann Gambrino, the executive director, said, "I guess I'd have to ask our board for an official position, but personally, I'd love it (extending Daylight Saving). As a traveler, it's more fun to have longer days."

Ann said she'd just returned from two weeks on the Colorado River in Utah and Arizona and one of the bright points — literally — of her trip was when she would cross from Arizona, where they don't have Daylight Saving Time, to Utah, where we do. Suddenly, she had an hour more daylight.

I also called the Utah State Education office to see if it might have a problem with more dark hours in the morning. A man named Mark in public relations said, "No mood one way or the other here. People might have their personal ideas about it, but there's no official board policy. It's sort of a non-topic. It has not come up that I know of."

In light of the absence of any serious opposition, then, I would like to recommend that we join California and Washington in the quest to standardize Daylight Saving Time. Our new state motto could be "Utah: All Lightened Up." We'd get more chores finished. And we'd have energy to burn.

Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.