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Growing Support for Pesticide Free Highways

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

The Sonoma Board of Supervisors unanimously voted this week (Tuesday, April 18th 2023) to support Assembly Bill 99 (Connolly). The Sonoma County BOS joins Napa and Humboldt Counties in officially supporting this bill that would require the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to use pesticides only as a last resort. In Sonoma County, Caltrans routinely uses 20-30 times more pounds of concentrated pesticide products per road mile than our local Transportation and Pubic Works department. In 1992 Caltrans said it could and would decrease pesticide use by 80%. Unfortunately, their pesticide use has only increased (420,000 lbs/year in 2022).

Willowside Middle School students from the environmental justice club (People Protecting the Planet, recently voiced their concerns over unnecessary pesticide use in Sonoma county, and in particular, the pesticides used by the (Caltrans). They hit the streets and collected a hundred signatures in the past weeks in support of AB99! Here is their open video message to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors:

In Sonoma County we have collected over 350 signatures from local residents who want our Board of Supervisors to address Caltrans' pesticide use. In addition, Over 80 independent California organizations including the Sierra Club and EWG and numerous farming and ranching organizations including Straus Home Ranch have come out in strong support of AB99. The opponents are the Chemical Industry, who stand to lose millions in revenue if the bill passes. The opposition claims that reducing pesticide use will pose safety issues for workers, an unsubstantiated argument frequently used by industry.

All of this progress comes amidst the highest spraying time of the year for Caltrans in Sonoma County. Now that the rains stopped, Caltrans spray trucks have been busy spraying CA-101, CA-12 and will soon spray toxic cocktails of Roundup PRO, Gallery SC, and Dimension Ultra on most of our urban and rural state highways. Simple and cost effective alternatives to pesticides have been used by Caltrans in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties almost exclusively for over 35 years.

AB99 will be heard by the State Assembly Transportation Committee next week (Monday April 24th, 2:30pm.) The link below provides instructions on how to call in and show your support:

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