In the 2016 and 2017 General Assembly sessions, Delegate John Bell (Loudoun-87th district) introduced legislation to require Light Emitting Diode (LED) outdoor lighting for all state government entities (the bills did not advance to a full House of Delegates vote either year). While the commitment to energy efficiency is laudable, the proposed legislation failed to incorporate necessary criteria for responsible outdoor lighting in order to prevent the harmful safety, aesthetic, and environmental impacts of low quality LED. The Virginia chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association met with Delegate Bell during the 2016 session and also communicated with his office during the 2017 session, but could not support the final legislation. Virginia IDA issued an action alert to members and supporters asking them to contact members of the committee to which the bill was assigned; there was a strong response and the bill was ‘passed over’ on a voice vote.
The 2017 version of the bill did include some language referencing light pollution and exemption for historic districts, but did not address LED’s unique attributes and specifically failed to incorporate:
1) a 3,000K Color Correlated Temperature limit (“warm” amber light rather than “cold” blue-white light), consistent with the recommendations of the American Medical Association and the standards of the International Dark-Sky Association;
2) encouragement of wireless adaptive control technology, unique to LED lighting, for use only when needed and at appropriately varying light levels; and
3) protections for Dark Sky Parks, proposed Dark Sky Parks, and other natural areas.
Virginia IDA anticipates this legislation returning to the 2018 session and intends to continue working with Delegate Bell to improve the next version of the bill. There may be further action necessary in the second half of 2017. For now, for more background can be found at: http://www.darkvirginiasky.org/2017/02/why-va-ida-opposed-led-outdoor-lighting.html.