Auburn Astronomical Society

Dark Sky Legislation


AAS member, Dr. Jim McLaughlin, is working with the Alabama Legislature and with other astronomical societies in the state, to preserve our night sky.  Below is the draft bill.  Jim welcomes your input to make this a better bill.
 

 
 
 

Night Sky Protection Act

SYNOPSIS: Under existing law, permanent or portable outdoor artificial illuminating devices are not regulated. 

This bill would provide for the regulation of permanent or portable outdoor artificial illuminating devices. 

This bill would provide exemptions for certain outdoor artificial illuminating devices. 

This bill would provide for civil penalties for violations. 

A BILL
TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT

Relating to permanent or portable outdoor artificial illuminating devices; to provide for the regulation of permanent or portable outdoor artificial illuminating devices; to provide exemptions for certain outdoor artificial illuminating devices; and to provide for civil penalties for violations. 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA: 

Section 1. 

This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Night Sky Protection Act." 

Section 2. 

The Legislature finds and declares that the purpose of this act shall be to regulate outdoor night lighting fixtures to preserve and enhance the dark sky of the state while promoting safety, conserving energy, and preserving the environment for astronomy. 

Section 3. 

For purposes of this act, the following terms shall have the following meanings: 

(1) DEPARTMENT. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management. 

 (2) OUTDOOR LIGHTING FIXTURE. An outdoor artificial illuminating device, whether permanent or portable, used for illumination or advertisement, including searchlights, spotlights, and floodlights, whether for architectural lighting, parking lot lighting, landscape lighting, billboards, or street lighting. 

 (3) SHIELDED. A fixture that is shielded in a manner that light rays emitted by the fixture, either directly from the lamp or indirectly from the fixture, are projected below a horizontal plane running through the lowest point on the fixture where light is emitted. 

Section 4. 

All outdoor lighting fixtures installed after January 1, 2011, shall be shielded, except incandescent fixtures of 150 watts or less and other sources of 70 watts or less.

Section 5. 

(a) In addition to other exemptions provided in this act, an outdoor lighting fixture not meeting these provisions shall be allowed, if the fixture is extinguished by an automatic shutoff device between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and sunrise. 

(b) No outdoor recreational facility, whether public or private, shall be illuminated after 11:00 p.m. except for a national or international tournament or to conclude any recreational or sporting event or other activity conducted, which is in progress prior to 11:00 p.m. at a ballpark, outdoor amphitheater, arena, or similar facility. 

Section 6. 

No new mercury vapor outdoor lighting fixtures shall be sold or installed after January 1, 2011. 

Section 7. 

(a) The following shall be exempt from the requirements of this act: 
(1) Outdoor lighting fixtures on advertisement signs on interstates and federal primary highways. 

(2) Outdoor lighting fixtures existing and legally installed prior to the effective date of this act, however, when existing lighting fixtures become unrepairable, their replacements shall be subject to all the provisions of this act. 

(3) Navigational lighting systems at airports and other lighting necessary for aircraft safety. 

(4) Outdoor lighting fixtures necessary for worker safety at farms, ranches, dairies, feedlots, or industrial, mining, or oil and gas facilities. 


(b) The provisions of this act are cumulative and supplemental and shall not apply within any county or municipality that, by ordinance or resolution, has adopted provisions restricting light pollution that are equal to or more stringent than the provisions of this act. 

Section 8. 

The department shall review the outdoor lighting provisions in the uniform building codes used in this state and make recommendations for appropriate changes to comply with the provisions of this act. 

Section 9. 

If public utilities are required pursuant to the provisions of this act or by local government ordinances to accelerate replacement of lighting fixtures, the cost of the replacement shall be included in rates approved by the Public Service Commission. 

Section 10. 

Any person, firm, or corporation violating the provisions of this act shall be punished as follows: 

 (1) For a first offense, the offender may be issued a warning by the department. 

 (2) For a second offense or offense that continues for 30 days from the date of the warning, twenty-five dollars ($25) minus the replacement cost for each offending fixture shall be assessed by the department. 

(3) Before issuing a warning or imposing a civil penalty under this act, the department shall provide a written notice to the person, firm, or corporation violating the provisions of this act and the opportunity to request, within 30 days of notice, a hearing on the record. 

Section 11. 

This act shall become effective on the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.