Hawaii’s Sierra Club opposes the state Department of Transportation’s to install “controversial new ultra-bright” LED streetlights.

“The 4,000-kelvin lights burn energy more efficiently, but pull protected bird species off-course, risking their lives,” the club warned in a press release Monday.

The club complains that the DOT did not consult area residents. Where the new lights have been installed, it says, there has been “considerable public opposition.”

Bright lights, big city.
Bright lights, big city. Flickr: Hikosaemon

Said director Marti Townsend, “Transportation officials must have been aware of the negotiations with Honolulu officials over precisely this issue and our contention that these lights violate the Endangered Species Act and/or the Migratory Bird Treaty. That’s why the city withdrew its contract to install the polluting 4000 kelvin lights on county roadways.”

Asked about the claims, the DOT issued a statement Wednesday:

The Hawaii State Department of Transportation is committed to an environmentally responsible and economically sustainable future for Hawaii. That’s why we’re installing LED lights throughout Oahu and Maui. Doing so will save residents over $4.4 million dollars each year in energy and maintenance costs, provide residents with safer surroundings, and reduce our overall carbon footprint.

We proactively consulted with pertinent agencies and organizations during the design phase of this project, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We did so to ensure we are adhering to environmental standards to protect our wildlife as provided under state and federal laws, including the “Endangered Species Act.”

Each location and installation was evaluated carefully, based on the right technology for the situation. For example, shielded fixtures, in full compliance with Hawaii Revised Statues — HRS 201-8.5, will be installed to direct the light on the roadways and reduce light in the night sky by at least 44 percent. In addition, 3,000 K LED lights were chosen for locations near endangered sea turtle nesting sites to protect the hatchlings.

Read Civil Beat’s related column:

Curt Sanburn: Missing the Curve on Highway Lighting

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