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Illinois Proposes New Light Pollution Law

Illinois Proposes New Light Pollution Law

Illinois state senator Laura Ellman, a Democrat from the Chicago suburb of Naperville, has proposed the state’s first Outdoor Lighting Control Act, which is aimed at reducing light pollution at night. Ellman is the Chair of the state’s Environment and Conservation Committee.

The bill, which at this point has only been introduced and not debated, will “restrict state money from being used to install or replace permanent outdoor lighting units unless certain conditions are met. Provides that specified lighting units that were installed prior to the effective date of the Act and that produce light pollution need not be replaced until the end of the life of the lamp. Provides that these requirements apply to all lighting on or in all newly constructed, renovated, and retrofitted State-owned, State-supported, State-funded, or State-related rights-of-way, roadways and sidewalks, spaces, facilities, properties, non-habitable structures, monuments, and flagpoles.”

The State Attorney General, municipality, or county would be in charge of enforcing the Act if it passes.

The bill describes light pollution as “the scattering of artificial light in to the nighttime sky, caused by excessive or improperly positioned outdoor lighting, resulting in sky glow, light trespass, and glare.” It contains specific regulations on street lighting and wall packs, stating the packs much be fully shielded to an angle of no more than 60 degrees from the downward vertical direction to eliminate glare and light trespass. It also says outdoor lighting must be minimized to only what is needed for comfort and safety while still complying with the Act. It states “Low-intensity facade lighting is permitted as long as the light projects downward and no lighting spills beyond the facade being lit. Between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., lighting units must be turned off or dimmed.”

The bill also targets building owners, stating light from the interior of a building must be minimized by lowering window shades after sunset or by turning off lighting when not in use.

Last May, the Illinois Senate adopted Resolution 64, which declares local governments in Illinois should abide by International Dark-Sky Association guidelines and lighting principles to help mitigate the effects of light pollution produced by outdoor lighting.

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