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AAS ACTION ALERT #2001-2 (For Maryland Members)

[This message was mailed from at 4:05pm 26 FEB 2001 to AAS Members with Maryland, DC and Virginia mailing addresses. It is intended for those that reside in Maryland.]


This action alert summarizes action that the Maryland State Legislature may be making soon regarding light pollution. Maryland AAS members are encouraged to contact their state representatives to support the passage of Maryland House Joint Resolution 14, which establishes a task force to investigate the consequences and extent of inefficient public lighting.


The Maryland Section of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA-MD) is asking for help to ensure the passage of legislation now before the Maryland General Assembly.

The legislation mandates a comprehensive study of light pollution in Maryland. The Washington, DC area is rapidly losing what little remaining dark skies it can claim to development and poor outdoor lighting practices. In addition to destroying the starry night skies, poor outdoor lighting wastes millions of dollars of public funds every year, creates hazardous driving conditions, aggravates global warming (through excess energy production), degrades the nighttime environment for migrating birds and other wildlife, and intrudes on personal privacy.


Earlier this month, House Joint Resolution 14 was introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates. HJ 14, sponsored by Delegate Nancy Kopp (Bethesda) and 22 other delegates, would create a task force to "study the cost, extent, and consequences of inefficient public lighting and light pollution in the State and benefits of alternative improvements." IDA-MD believes that the study mandated by HJ 14 will be extremely useful in our efforts to educate public officials and the general public about the light pollution issue, and will be instrumental in convincing local governments around the state to adopt and enforce effective outdoor lighting ordinances.

The text of HJ 14 can be found on the General Assembly's website at:

To ensure the adoption of HJ 14, it is important that every member of the Maryland House and Senate be contacted by residents from their districts urging them to support HJ 14. Contacts, ideally, should be in the form of written letters, but also can be via phone calls or email. State Delegates and Senators can easily be identified by using the convenient service provided by the General Assembly at:

It is also important that contact be made before 6 March, the date on which the House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on HJ 14. (It is particularly important that members of the Appropriations Committee be contacted. Members of the Appropriations Committee are listed at

At the 6 March hearing, International Dark Sky Association representatives will be speaking in support of the legislation.

HJ 14 represents a serious "first step" to stopping and even reversing the degradation of Maryland's dark skies. The American Astronomical Society encourages each member in Maryland to contact and urge their state legislators to adopt HJ 14. Also, please encourage any other organizations or individuals with a similar interest in this issue to contact their state legislators to support HJ 14. Your support and effort are greatly appreciated. If you have any questions about this effort or issue, please contact David Corum at 202.828.7126 (day) or 301.933.1484 (evening), who is the MD IDA coordinator.

Kevin B. Marvel Associate Executive Officer for Policy Programs American Astronomical Society

For further information on Astronomy Pubic Policy see the AAS Public Policy web site or contact Kevin Marvel, AAS Associate Executive Officer for Policy Programs.