Thursday, November 4, 2010

Can Porter County Keep it's Sky Dark?

I know there are plenty of political blogs out there, all analyzing Tuesday’s election results, and I have no intention of doing broad political commentary. However, as disappointed as I was with the results of the elections on a national, state, and local level, there was one race that hit me hard. It could also have an impact for me personally, and could portend problems for local astronomers, which is why I can write about it here.

My regular readers will remember that on October 5, the Porter County Commissioners passed a resolution to endorse reduction of light pollution. Commissioner Bob Harper, on passing the resolution stated, “We feel this is important.” I was surprised that the resolution passed easily, largely because Commissioner Harper is known locally as the “candidate of NO” for opposing the Porter County joining the Regional Development Authority. He felt strongly that the county should tightly control growth and development, which I found out nicely corresponded with our desire to reduce light pollution in the county.

On Tuesday, Harper lost his re-election bid to Republican candidate Nancy Adams, a local restaurant owner. Adams favors Porter County joining the Regional Development Authority, and is looking to spur growth and development in the county. Obviously, growth leads to more lighting. That’s fine, we need jobs, just like the rest of the state and nation, but I would like to see that all new development implements responsible lighting. Adams will be the minority voice among county commissioners, so hopefully last month’s resolution will not be repealed. Indeed, Commissioner John Evans also supported the measure, and seemed to enjoy viewing the Jovian system and learning a little about astronomy after that meeting.

I realize it’s too early to race to conclusions about the fate of the light pollution resolution, but it’s not too early to think about the political climate’s impact upon it in the future. I plan to contact International Dark Sky Association board member Audrey Fischer soon about the implications of the election. Audrey was the driving force behind the resolution, and might know better than me what steps can be taken to protect what she fought to achieve.

I would like to work with the county commissioners not only to keep the resolution on the books, but to expand it, making it enforceable. It would also be a good model to take to municipalities in the region. Friends congratulated me after hearing that Porter County adopted a light pollution resolution, but also warned to be vigilant against it’s possible repeal. Tuesday election results reminded me that what’s worth fighting to get is worth fighting to maintain.


  1. I am curious to know what Audrey Fischer will tell you. I think that you wanting to work with county commissioners is a really great idea! You are right about what you said: What's worth fighting to get is worth fighting to maintain!

  2. I was warned by Stargazer Tony that this could happen, I just didn't expect it so soon. The newpaper article in the Post-Tribune from last month also stated that Dyer (about 20 miles west, on the Indiana-Ilinois state line) had a LP ordinance, but that is was repealed. I don't want that to happen here. I want to see it strengthened. It can be a model and stepping stone to take to other communities.