HB1568 – Light Pollution

HB1568 – The Arkansas Nighttime Environment Protection Act

The Goal: Save tax dollars and protect the environment.

Read the Bill and see its’ progress: Here

What it does

When the state or a county or city within the state need a new or replacement outdoor light and the light is brighter than 1,800 lumens (~100 watts) it:

  • Must be in a fully shielded fixture.
  • Must be designed to maximize energy conservation and reduce light pollution, light trespass and glare.
  • Must not be brighter than what is needed to adequately do the job.
  • If used to light a road where there is NO intersection it must be shown the safety concerns can’t be met by a reduction of speed limit, reflectors, signage or other passive means first.
  • Roadway signage must be lit from within or from the top if possible.
  • Advertisement and Billboards must be lit from within or if externally the majority of the light must be directed at the billboard and the fixtures must hide the lamp so it is not visible from the road, thus preventing drivers from being blinded by billboard lights.
  • Residential or Commercial “Night Watchman” Security lighting provided by utilities must be partially or fully shielded lights.  The consumer has free choice to purchase a non-conforming fixture to be installed by the utility, if they wish.
  • Makes it unlawful for anyone to commit excessive or unreasonable light trespass on an adjacent property. (i.e. putting up excessively bright lights that shine in your window at night.)
  • Outdoor recreational facilities not in use after 11 p.m. have to shut off lighting not necessary for security and safety.

Exemptions:

  • A federal law preempts state law
  • A fire, police or other emergency situation arises that requires temporary outdoor lights.
  • Outdoor lighting for worker safety, such as road work, oil rigs, ranches, ect.
  • Navigation aids for air or water craft.
  • Monument, historical, or flag lighting.
  • Corrections and Mental Health Facilities
  • It is determined that an excessive cost, structural modification, safety or security issue would occur to become compliant.
  • Any outdoor light installed before the effective date is “grandfathered in” and exempt until it needs replacement.

What it doesn’t do:

The focus here is on your state and local governments.  It does not regulate or affect how or what kind of outdoor lighting is used by individuals, property owners, or businesses.

It is not an unfunded mandate for our cities or counties.  They are not forced to go out and change out any streetlights or outdoor fixtures if this becomes law.  What it says is when it is time to replace the fixture (or sooner if desired) the new one must be fully shielded if it is not cost or structurally prohibitive.

What is Light Pollution and Why Care?

Light pollution, as address in this bill, is the alteration of naturally occurring light levels in the outdoor environment at night due to artificial lights(i.e. streetlights). The known adverse effects are list below with links to allow you to learn more.

Wasted Energy and Tax Dollars.

Crime and Security Issues.

Human & Animal Health Issues

Diminished ability for amateur stargazers and professional astronomers to view the cosmos.

Cities transitioning to LED Streetlights

 

 

 

The Lost Night

Light Pollution - The night sky as seen from a rural area compared to within a city.

Light Pollution – The night sky as seen from a rural area compared to within a city.

66 percent of the United States and 50 percent of the European population can no longer see the Milky Way at night.

Additionally, approximately 40 percent of the United States and almost 20 percent of the European Union population has lost the ability to view the night sky with an eye that can adapt to the darkness of the night sky—in other words, it is as if they never really experience nighttime.

Wasted Energy and Money

View of Arkansas at night.  Our major cities are easily seen from excess light they send into space.
View of Arkansas at night. Our major cities are easily seen from excess light they send into space.

In the United States, roughly 6 percent of the 4,054 million megawatt hours (mwh) of electricity produced are used for outdoor lighting and an estimated 30% of this is wasted as light pollution (California Energy Commission 2005). This translates into 72.9 million mwh of electricity needlessly being generated at a cost of $6.9 billion a year. Furthermore, this unnecessary electricity usage generated an additional 66 million metric tons of CO2 (Restenen and Kraushaar, 2006; DOE 2006). Eliminating light pollution would be the CO2 equivalent of removing over 9.5 million cars from of the road (EPA 2006; DOT 2001).

Negative Health Effects

Light Pollution in the United States between 1950 and 2025.

Light Pollution in the United States between 1950 and 2025.

Many environmentalists, naturalists, and medical researchers consider light pollution to be one of the fastest growing and most pervasive forms of environmental pollution. And a growing body of scientific research suggests that light pollution can have lasting adverse effects on both human and wildlife health.

Visit this image of the Milky Way from outside Flagstaff, Az the first Int. dark sky city.

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap080416.html

Comments are closed.