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Legislative Memo

BILL:

A. 6950-D (Grannis) / S. 3003-D (Marcellino)

Support

SUBJECT:

Light Pollution

 

DATE:

June 1, 2004

 

The Business Council of New York State, Inc. opposes the above referenced legislation. This
bill would, among other things, amend the Environmental Conservation Law and the Public
Service Law by establishing stringent and overreaching standards for outdoor lighting,
mandate the creation of “dark-sky preserves” in the state, and establish the criminal
infraction of “light trespass.”

Specifically, the legislation would add a new section to the Environmental Conservation Law,
known as the “Healthy, Safe and Energy Efficient Outdoor Lighting Act”, in an attempt to
prohibit “light pollution” (defined as the adverse effects caused by outdoor lighting which
causes “glare” and “light trespass” on another's property). The legislation broadly attempts
to contain “glare” or “sky glow” (the illumination of the nighttime sky that results from the
upward shining of light) by enacting very broad, far reaching and stringent limitations on
entities that utilize outdoor lighting.

The bill would have a direct impact on the private sector, specifically commercial and
industrial businesses, which utilize outdoor lighting programs for a variety of purposes, not
the least of which is the safety and security of their employees and customers. The bill
places the entities that utilize outdoor lighting for security purposes in a precarious
situation. In efforts to provide adequate security or establish reliable conditions for work
during evening hours, companies and individuals may face the potential for liability under
this act. This legislation would create a confusing situation under which exemptions must
be secured from local officials if “a compelling safety interest cannot be adequately addressed
by any other method.” Additionally, a penalty system is established under which those
guilty of light trespass will be subject to civil penalties.

The codification of light pollution and light trespass, and the mandatory classification of
levels of outdoor lighting, will result in risks to public safety, will impose significant
unnecessary costs on local taxpayers and consumers (through the possible alteration of
existing outdoor lighting and lighting fixtures) and will create a new and burdensome penalty
system for those who violate another's “dark space.”

The legislation would also require the Department of Environmental Conservation, with
input from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, to develop a
model comprehensive outdoor lighting ordinance that utilities would be required to send to
all customers. The cost associated with this mandated mailing of “informational packets”
explaining outdoor lighting standards would be borne by the utility customers in the state,
not the government implementing this experiment in public policy.

For the reasons articulated above, we oppose this legislation.