In 2008, the federal government was drawn into the issue of dark sky lighting. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) estimates that there are currently 2,500 dark sky ordinances throughout the country, all put in place by towns, cities, and counties in an attempt to slow the growth of light pollution in their areas. But so far, the federal government has done very little to help in the fight against light pollution.
That’s why I’m glad to see the recent bipartisan letter sent from the US House of Representatives to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Being lauded by the IDA, this letter attempts to get the EPA engaged in research into light pollution, making it plain the consequences of worsening light spillage for humanity and the environment.
In the letter, the US House of Representatives outlines four steps recommended to the EPA:
- Officially codify a definition of light pollution
- Consider light pollution issues in future environmental protection programs
- Iincorporate dark sky features into ENERGY STAR fixtures, as well as publications and standards
- Educate the public about light pollution through outreach and grant programs
There were signatures from many Congressional legislators on the letter to the EPA administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, including: Todd Akin (R-MO, 2nd district) Nancy Boyda (D-KS, 2nd district) John Culberson (R-TX, 7th district), Terry Everett (R-AL, 2nd district), Sam Farr (D-CA, 17th district), Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ, 8th district), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ, 7th district), Phil Hare (D-IL, 17th district), Steve Israel (D-NY, 2nd district), Jim McDermott (D-WA, 7th district – the district I live in), and Lamar Smith (R-TX, 21st district).
This is great news. If we can get some solid research conducted by a third party (the EPA, in particular), along with coordinated education for the public, and readily available products, we might actually begin to see more communities take action against this growing problem. It’s about time, indeed.