AB-99: Healthy Highways for California
Updated: Feb 15
California Assembly Bill 99 (AB-99) provides the ability for local communities to reduce or eliminate pesticide use on state highways. At present, Humboldt and Mendocino are the only counties in California where Caltrans does not use pesticides (like RoundUp) for routine roadside vegetation management. Many local municipalities have voluntarily stopped using chemical weed control; the state has been slow to follow suit. Many state highways are 2-lane rural roads that run directly past homes, businesses, bike routes, bus stops, and sensitive ecosystems. Roads are some of our most public spaces. Even though we might not put roads in the same category as a public park or trail, nobody can avoid them and many people use roads on a bike or on foot. It can be a disastrous situation when you encounter a Caltrans spray truck on your way to work or school. Caltrans routinely sprays on weekends and provides no notifications. In February 2022, an avoidable exposure incident along CA-116 in Sonoma County left dozens exposed to a toxic cocktail of RoundUp (glyphosate, Gallery (Isoxaben), and (Dimension Ultra (Dithiopyr and Toluene). These pesticides are known human carcinogens (Proposition 65), highly toxic to aquatic life and fish, and known marine pollutants (Source: Manufacturer Safety Data Sheets). Caltrans provided no recourse to the impacted community members and would not agree to provide notifications or discontinue spraying on weekends. Sonoma County government including the Agricultural Commissioner's office has no control over Caltrans' operations. These types of incidents have occurred in multiple counties throughout California. Enter AB-99. This Assembly Bill would would require Caltrans to respect resolutions passed by counties banning pesticide use on state highways and other roadway right-of-ways maintained by Caltrans.
We are gathering a coalition of concerned organizations throughout California to address roadside spraying and support AB-99. Please sign your organization on to our letter by March 13, 2023 and contact us to get involved (SASS@conservationaction.org).