AB 99 requires Caltrans to respect resolutions passed by counties banning the roadside spraying of pesticides
- Aaron Vad
- Chief of Staff
- (916) 319-2012
SACRAMENTO, CA – Today Assemblymember Damon Connolly introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 99, which stops harmful pesticide usage on sensitive ecosystems along highways in counties that adopt official resolutions restricting the deployment of such chemicals. Even though Marin and Sonoma County have passed ordinances banning the use of certain herbicides like glyphosate, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is exempt from many local rules and is allowed to spray pesticides with far less oversight and environmental precautions than those required by many North Bay jurisdictions. For example, the Sonoma County Transportation and Public Works (TPW) did not utilize any pesticides in West County and used only 8 gallons of herbicides to manage all County roads in 2021. In contrast, Caltrans used over 745 gallons of herbicides on Sonoma County’s State Highways during that year. AB 99 will ensure that Caltrans respects local environmental protections adopted by communities in the North Bay by requiring the Department to discontinue the roadside spraying of pesticides and synthetic herbicides in counties that adopt official resolutions banning the usage of these dangerous chemicals.
“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 resolutions banning their usage - ensuring that the local environmental protections that our communities have fought for stand strong.”
Pesticides can contaminate soil, water, turf, and other vegetation due to pesticide drift, secondary poisoning, runoff into local water bodies, or groundwater contamination. Synthetic herbicides and pesticides are known to cause developmental harm to humans, are not readily biodegradable, and contaminate groundwater. Whether through direct or indirect contact, pesticide exposure is linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, kidney and liver damage, birth defects, and developmental changes in a wide range of species. Additionally, they can be toxic to a host of other organisms including birds, fish, beneficial insects, and non-target plants. According to a study conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, More than 80 percent of U.S. children and adults likely have the chemical glyphosate in their bodies. Presently, RoundUp is the primary tool used by Caltrans for killing brush along California State Highways.
AB 99 now resides in the Assembly Rules Committee, awaiting referral to its first policy committee.
Assemblymember Connolly represents the entirety of Marin County and Southern Sonoma County