NYS Legislature passes light pollution bill!

The New York State Legislature has enacted 2014′s light pollution bill! S5275-B passed the Senate on June 18th, and A7489-B passed the Assembly on June 19th.

The bill will require most new/replacement outdoor lights installed by State agencies to be fully shielded. It is not as comprehensive as some bills that were considered in earlier years of this effort, and it isn’t well written. But…assuming we can persuade the Governor to sign…it’s a start and will obviously have a big impact in areas with many State roads or other facilities.

If you are as pleased with this news as SELENE is, you might convey your appreciation to our prime sponsors, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and Senator Carl Marcellino, who have fought this fight on our behalf for many years. Thanks to you both and to your stellar legislative aides as well!

Please let the Governor know that you support A7489-B/S5275-B and want him to sign it!

Help stop bad new New York City streetlights!

New York City has announced plans to replace all of its streetlights with LED fixtures. Unfortunately, the fixtures that have been selected will cause a massive increase in light pollution in the City and beyond because they will not be adequately shielded and because their light contains too much blue.

Why is light pollution bad?

Light pollution wastes energy and money and causes glare that makes it difficult to see well at night. Misdirected light crosses property lines and intrudes into homes, disturbing sleep. Hundreds of studies have documented the adverse effects of light pollution on the environment, and more than 1,600 investigations into the impact on human health have been reported:

http://www.trianglealumni.org/mcrol/References-With_Abstracts.pdf

An excellent summary of the medical issues was recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The fixtures that have been selected will clothe our entire City in a harsh ugly light. And of course light pollution is obliterating the stars–a source of inspiration and information to diverse cultures across the centuries.

What’s wrong with blue-tinted “white” light?

The LED fixtures the City has chosen will produce about three times as much skyglow as the existing high-pressure sodium streetlights. And compared to light with a warmer hue, blue-rich light also causes more glare, poses greater difficulties for older eyes, has more damaging ecological impacts, and more readily disrupts human circadian rhythms. For further information please see this Seeing Blue article and the White Paper on which it is based.

What should New York City do?

The City is to be commended for taking steps to reduce the energy consumed by its 250,000 streetlights. However, its transportation “design manual” states that the standard new LED will be a “semi-cutoff” fixture, defined as emitting up to 5% of its light upward and up to 20% of its light at or above 80 degrees. The City needs to stop sending light into the sky and use only “fully shielded” fixtures that direct all light downward!

Furthermore, the City is specifying that the new fixtures have a “Correlated Color Temperature” of 4300 degrees Kelvin–much too blue! Although the first “high brightness” LED’s for outdoor use had a high blue content, many are now available with warmer color that produce the same (or nearly the same) amount of light per watt consumed. As recommended in the Seeing Blue article, the City should not install any streetlights with Correlated Color Temperature greater than 3000 Kelvin.

How can you help?

Please help persuade New York City to revise its plan to install unshielded streetlights with damaging blue-rich “white” LED’s! The best way to do this is to write to our Mayor:

Hon. Bill de Blasio, Mayor
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

You can also contact the Mayor via this online message form:
http://www.nyc.gov/html/static/pages/officeofthemayor/contact.shtml

If you live in New York City, please send a copy to your representative in City Council (http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml). Last year more than 20 Council Members co-sponsored a bill that would require all New York City streetlights to be fully shielded.

Your letter can be very brief: You just want to tell the Mayor that all new streetlights must be “fully shielded” and have a “Correlated Color Temperature” of no more than 3000 Kelvin.

Suffolk County on Long Island recently enacted legislation limiting blue content of outdoor lighting done by the County. Shouldn’t New Yorkers have similar protection?

Thanks for your help!

See below for updates on 2014 New York State legislation!

2014 New York bills

A new NYS light pollution bill was introduced late in the 2013 legislative Session.  This was prompted by a so-called “model” state bill drawn up by several industry organizations that had surfaced earlier in the year.  After some of the most serious flaws in the “model” had been repaired, the bill was introduced as A7489/S5275.

Like its immediate predecessor, this bill would require full shielding for most State-funded new/replacement outdoor lighting. The A version of this actually passed the Senate at the very end of Session!

You can review text of the 2014 bill at http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A07489&term=2013.  Please contact your representatives in the Senate and the Assembly and encourage them to become co-sponsors and to work for passage of this bill!

From the above page you can also view the Sponsor’s Memo, which contains information about and justification for the bill that may be useful in contacting your Senator and Assemblymember. As the memo notes, the purpose of the legislation to protect the nighttime environment, enhance safety and security, and conserve energy.