Earlier this week, AB 2382, to promote the safety of migratory birds, insects, and people passed out of the Business and Professions Committee with bipartisan support. In order to tackle Artificial Light at Night (ALAN) which is harming our ecosystems, AB 2382 requires all outdoor lighting fixtures installed or replaced on state buildings and structures after Jan 1, 2023, to have external shields to redirect light, be equipped with either an automatic or shutoff device, or be motion-activated.
The International Dark-Sky Association estimates that at least 30% of outdoor lighting in the United State is wasted, primarily by lights that aren’t covered. These wasted lights total $3.3 billion in lost electricity costs and the release of 21 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. In addition to the negative environmental impacts, excess artificial light is also affecting ecosystems, and can disrupt critical behavior in wildlife.
According to the National Audubon Society, 70% of bird species migrate each year. Of those birds, 80% migrate at night, using the night sky to help them navigate to and from their breeding grounds. Excess artificial light attracts nocturnal-migratory birds and diverts them from safe migration routes to human environments, where they are more susceptible to collisions with buildings and structures. Every year in the United States, at least one million birds die due to building or structure collisions related to ALAN.
“As we think of what changes we can make on Earth Day to protect the planet, this minor change can have significant positive impacts on our ecosystem,” said Assemblymember Alex Lee. “A study found that reducing indoor artificial light at night by half can result in roughly 60% fewer bird collisions.”
Artificial light can also have negative impacts on insects and humans. ALAN can affect insect movement, foraging, and reproduction. When caught in a light plume of a light fixture, insects can circle around it until they die, or the light is extinguished. For teens and adolescents who live in areas that have high levels of artificial light at night, they are more likely to have mood and anxiety disorders, as well as interrupted sleep patterns.
In order to curb ALAN impacts, the bill will require all outdoor lighting fixtures installed or replaced on state buildings and structures after Jan 1, 2023 to have an external shield to direct light to where it is needed, be equipped with an automatic or shutoff device, or be motion-activated. The bill is now headed to the Appropriations Committee.