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Press Conference highlights Caltrans' misuse of pesticides

AB99 "right policy" to help Caltrans move toward a safer and more responsible approach to vegetation management.

Assembly Member Damon Connolly hosted a press conference in Sacramento this week to talk about AB99, a bill he introduced to help curtail Caltrans' over-reliance on pesticides for routine vegetation management.

“The dangers and health risks caused by pesticides and synthetic herbicides like Roundup are undeniable,” said Assemblymember Damon Connolly (D-San Rafael). “Even though North Bay communities like Marin and Sonoma have taken bold steps to protect our sensitive ecosystems along highways, toxic chemicals are still being sprayed in our backyards. AB 99 will prohibit these dangerous chemicals from being deployed along highways in counties that adopt restrictions on their usage - ensuring that the local environmental protections that our communities have fought for stand strong.”

Joined by Assembly Member Connolly were Rika Gopinath, Chair of YardSmartMarin, an organization empowering people to reduce/eliminate pesticide use through awareness and education about safer, effective alternatives and a member of the Marin County Integrated Pest Management Commission, Kat Knecht, Senior Program Coordinator of the Marin County Parks Integrative Pest Management Program, Sarah Keiser, Chief Executive Officer of Wild Oat Hollow, a regenerative family farm in Sonoma County and Director of the local Community Grazing Cooperatives, and Megan Kaun, Director of Sonoma Safe Ag Safe Schools.

Sonoma Safe Ag Safe Schools (Sonoma SASS) began addressing Caltrans' negligent use of pesticides following an accidental exposure to motorists and bicyclists along CA-116 south of Sebastopol on February 27, 2022. Since then, Sonoma SASS has joined a dozen other organizations statewide as part of the Healthy Highways Coalition to provide education and resources to policymakers in addressing Caltrans' outdated pesticide use policies.

AB 99 has successfully passed through the State Assembly and is now awaiting a policy hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee.

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