Conservation Groups Joint Statement on PG&E Herbicide Spraying

On September 29, 2022, PG&E alerted Humboldt County that it was going to spray herbicides along its easements across the region. PG&E failed to alert landowners or tenants of this new threat; instead, local news broke the story just two days before spraying was set to commence. Today, it appears that PG&E has postponed spraying and is requiring individuals to opt-in to the program. Many important details are still missing or are evidently still in flux.

We, like you, are alarmed by PG&E’s proposed herbicide spraying. The toxicants employed have a clearly established relationship with increased risk of disease, including cancer, and some have been banned in other countries as a result. Herbicide application is slated to start concurrent with the defined “wet period” in Humboldt County, risking runoff into adjacent streams. Humboldt County’s organic and cannabis farms are particularly at risk from spray drift, as even trace amounts of herbicides can ruin an entire year’s crop. Spray along roadsides places road users, particularly walkers and bikers, at risk and may contaminate wild-harvested foods, like berries, which can be picked from roadsides throughout the county. For these reasons and more, herbicide application has long been controversial in Humboldt County, with jurisdictions including Humboldt County and Arcata have adopted policies against herbicide application on their property.

Our organizations oppose herbicide application without the express permission of landowners, their tenants and adjacent landowners where there is risk of spray drift, and without measures to protect users of public streets and roads. We are at work to correct this situation and to reform larger processes to prevent similar incidents in the future. State law limits local jurisdictions ability to regulate herbicide application, however, we call on the Board of Supervisors to adopt a formal policy outlining its position regarding herbicide application. Email your Supervisor to register your concerns.

If you are concerned about herbicide application on your property, please contact PG&E at 1-800-564-5080 and email at PG&E has failed to provide readily usable maps where they will spray. A Google Earth file is available here. Redheaded Blackbelt and Soucy Biologique have provided maps for the community.

Tom Wheeler
Executive Director

Caroline Griffith
Executive Director
Northcoast Environmental Center

Dan Chandler
Steering Committee Member
350 Humboldt

Colin Fiske
Executive Director
Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities

Alicia Hamann
Executive Director
Friends of the Eel River

Larry Glass
Executive Director
Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment

Jen Kalt
Humboldt Baykeeper

Patty Clary
Executive Director
Californians for Alternatives to Toxics

Additional Documents:
PG&E Proposed Herbicide Spraying from Californians for Alternatives to Toxics
Information on Herbicides from PG&E’s Consultant