Environmental Protection

Hawaii Streetlights Threaten Endangered Animals

The Department of Justice is gathering evidence to file criminal charges against the state.

Street lights may be causing more of a problem than high electricity bills in Hawaii. The U.S. Department of Justice is threatening legal action against the state claiming that these street lights are killing endangered birds, moths, and turtles. Hawaii is fighting the multi-year probe.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation was notified by the DOJ in December that the lights may be harmful to endangered creatures, and now the state’s attorney general has approved up to $150,000 worth of additional legal counsel that may be needed to fight these claims.

The state has been offered a plea agreement for these criminal charges.

In 2007, Hawaii DOT began using full cutoff lens fixtures on street lights to reduce light pollution. However, birds can become disoriented when in the air and looking at the lights, sometimes causing them to fly into things or fall to their deaths. About 1,800 of the state’s 11,000 street lights have these fixtures, which could be a costly endeavor for the state to repair.

While no charges have been filed yet, the DOJ is conducting the investigation state-wide, with a focus on Oahu.

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