Subject: NEW DARK SKY Legislation may pass,
LIPA Announces Light Pollution Reduction.
The Fight Against Light Pollution
Good News For L.I. Night Sky Watchers
By Laura Mgrdichian October 01, 2003
Much to the glee of many Long Island night sky watchers, and all others battling light pollution, as of last week the Long Island Power Authority will no longer provide its commercial, municipal and institutional customers with unshielded "turnpike" style floodlights that wash the sky with bright light and mask the view of the stars.
The new light fixtures will be fully shielded and will direct the light towards the ground, eliminating much of the light that ends up veiling the sky, known as light pollution. As the old lights are phased out and the new phased in, the night sky should start to appear darker, causing stars and other celestial bodies to appear brighter.
LIPA's switch comes after years of urging by many residents and community groups that the company change its floodlighting program.
Susan Harder, a member of the East Hampton chapter of the Dark Sky Society, said in an email message that the organization is "delighted" at the news. She stated, "There are over 16,000 of these [fixtures] on Long Island, and they are one of the major reasons that we experience the sickly orange 'glow' which unnecessarily obliterates our view of the stars."
The new fixtures will also conserve energy because less light will be wasted. All the light produced will be directed at the area that needs illumination, which means that less wattage will be needed to provide adequate lighting.
Harder praised LIPA for its initiative. "This fixture introduction will be widely appreciated, and will set an example to other utilities across the country with similar problems from their 'dusk to dawn' commercial lighting programs," she stated. "LIPA is the first utility to institute this important innovative change."
A bill has passed in the New York State Assembly and is pending in the Senate that would limit excessive outdoor lighting that "wastes energy, intrudes on the privacy of others, creates glare, which reduces the effect of lighting, deteriorates the natural nighttime environment and reduces the ability for astronomical observation."
The bill states, "It is conservatively estimated that $3 to $4.5 billion a year is wasted in the United States in the unintended lighting of the sky rather than the streets, walkways and outdoor public spaces which the light was intended to illuminate."
The bill also cites the safety hazard posed by the glare of "poorly designed or positioned lighting [that] hampers the vision of drivers and pedestrians."
The bill would require that all state and public agencies only install lighting that is fully shielded but exempts lighting that is part of a "continuous roadway lighting design." Other exemptions are historic lighting and lighting for tunnels, airports, under bridges, roadway signs, navigation and cultural monuments.
In addition, the bill would give the commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation the power to identify lighting restrictions for "dark sky preserves" and would establish limits on "light trespass," which is light from fixtures that are unreasonably placed and shine beyond property boundaries, such as backyard floodlights.
In the Senate, the bill is being sponsored by Senator Carl Marcellino (R-Oyster Bay), who said the bill is still under review by legal aides and will probably undergo some revisions. However, he said he would be looking to move it forward during the Senate legislative session in January. "This is a bill we believe in and we think is important," he said.
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