LIGHTS OUT IN CALIFORNIA – 3 Febbraio 2001

LIGHTS OUT IN CALIFORNIA:
GOVERNOR ORDERS CONSERVATION EFFORT The deepening energy crisis in California has triggered a response from Gov. Gray Davis that should hearten astronomers throughout the Golden State. Executive Order D-19-01, issued by Davis Friday, calls for significant cutbacks in outdoor lighting in the statés most densely populated counties. The directive calls for voluntary compliance as soon as practical and mandatory enforcement (by Californiàs Highway Patrol and county sheriff departments) beginning March 15th. Retailers who fail to comply will face fines of $1,000 per day.

Although he did not specify a savings target, Davis hopes to reduce outdoor lighting by 50 percent statewide. “Every time an unnecessary light is burning in a retail establishment, that’s one more kilowatt-hour that could have been sent to some other part of the state,” Davis noted.

While the new get-tough policy may improve light-sky darkness, it does not lay the groundwork for true lighting reform. “Therés no mention of full-cutoff lighting, or residential lighting, or street lighting,” observes Richard Fienberg, Sky & Telescopés editor in chief, “and therés nothing about improving the environment, saving the night sky, reducing glare, avoiding light trespass, or anything else. When the statés power crunch eases, don’t be surprised if the governor’s order is rescinded.”

The full text of the executive order can be obtained through the Governor’s home page: http://www.governor.ca.gov/state/govsite/gov_homepage.jsp — click on “Press Room,” then “Executive Orders”). Those interested in contacting him about light-pollution issues can send e-mail using: graydavis@governor.ca.gov.

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