In a previous article, we discussed light pollution legislation in regards to the US; however, this time we will deep dive into Light Pollution Legislation in the Pacific Northwest. Let’s take a look at Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to see what they have enacted on the state and local levels.
It looks like Washington State does have some laws that relate to light pollution, but that is not directly a law. Rather in 2016, “Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a supplemental state transportation budget that said that had some federal dollars to do a study on the impacts of light to night driving and vision. ”
Local Light Pollution Regulations include at the time of writing :
- Bainbridge Island Municipal Code Sec.18.15.040
- Benton City Municipal Code Ch. 12.08 – Outdoor Lighting
- Bothell Municipal Code
- Burlington Municipal Code Sec. 17.48.020
- Enumclaw Municipal Code Sec. 19.22.020
- Goldendale Municipal Code Ch. 15.52
- Kennewick Municipal Code Ch. 18.39
- Lynnwood Municipal Code Sec. 17.05.110
- Mountlake Terrace Municipal Code Sec. 19.120.030
- Oak Harbor Municipal Code Sec. 20.14.060
- Pasco Municipal Code Ch. 12.32
- Tumwater Outdoor Lighting
To enact state-wide legislation, voters in Washington would need to either have the state legislature pass new legislation or the citizens could initiate light pollution legislation as a state statute. To get a new ballot initiative as a state statute onto the ballot, the signatures of 259,622 eligible voters would be required. Nevertheless, it looks like there has been success on the local level, which should be continued and could turn into a bigger legislative effort when the time is right.
Although it has a unique shape, Idaho is the home too many excellent dark sky sites. In regards to light pollution, it appears that there have been no laws that regulate or limit light pollution on the state level. However, “numerous cities and counties in Central Idaho already have dark sky ordinances that require shielding of outdoor lighting. But given changes in lighting technology and the recent surge in LED popularity, revisions to many older dark sky ordinances are becoming necessary.”  This is important because it has been noted that the growth of the city of Boise, Idaho may pose a threat to the future sky quality these dark sky sites. The Boise Idaho real estate market is going through a boom, which can cause issues going forward.
To enact state-wide legislation, voters in Idaho would need to either have the state legislature pass new legislation or the citizens could initiate light pollution legislation as a state statute. To get a new ballot initiative as a state statute onto the ballot, the signatures of 56,192 Idaho voters would be required. Nevertheless, it looks like there has been success on the local level, which should be continued and could turn into a bigger legislative effort when the time is right.
Oregon is the only state in the Pacific Northwest to have a state law regarding light pollution. Oregon Rev. Stat. §455.573 was passed as a building code amendment that “requires the use of shielded outdoor lighting fixtures when a light is installed or replaced on a public building. Allows a municipality to waive the above requirement when it determines that the use of a shielded lighting fixture is not practical because of the historic character of the building or for other reasons.”
In regards to local laws, there are a few Oregon cities and counties that have included light pollution into their laws and ordinances. This includes the following areas:
- Corvallis–Section 4.2.80
- Sandy–Ordinance 2002-11
- City of Canon Beach–17.90.100
- Troutdale–Ordinance Number 712
- Washington County–Ordinance 738
We have hoped you have enjoyed reading a little bit about Light Pollution in the Pacific Northwest, we hope you come back for more information later or leave us an idea or comment.