Ag Today September 13, 2017

Here’s how California plans to spend $1.5 billion in cap-and-trade money

By Katy Murphy, Bay Area News Group

SACRAMENTO — As California’s newly strengthened “cap and trade” climate-change program rakes in the cash, top lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown have reached a deal to spend nearly $1.5 billion in the coming year on such programs as clean-vehicle rebates, methane reduction and fire prevention.

That amount is on top of the $900 million the Legislature has already divvied up according to annual formulas, including $375 million to help fund a bullet train between San Francisco and Los Angeles, one of the governor’s top priorities.

The proposed spending details of Senate Bill 93 and SB 119 were published late Monday night. Because of a new voted-approved constitutional amendment requiring that bills be published for a full three days before they can be voted on, they can’t be approved until late Thursday night.

Where would the money go?

$895 million would go to an array of programs to replace gas and diesel-burning cars, trucks, buses and port equipment with cleaner models, a priority for which a group of lawmakers have been lobbying.

$225 million for fire prevention and response.

$165 million to agriculture, including $99 million to curb methane.

$61 million for urban forestry, healthy forests and wetlands restoration.

$44 million for programs to promote energy efficiency.

$40 million to improve the state’s recycling infrastructure.

$11 million for energy research at the University of California

Cap and trade, which began in 2013, essentially requires industry to pay to pollute, acquiring permits for each ton of carbon they release into the atmosphere. The permits are sold and traded at quarterly auctions, and some are distributed to industry for free.

The carbon permits sold out at record prices at the summer auction, yielding $640 million for initiatives to reduce global-warming greenhouse gases. That’s because lawmakers had just voted in July to extend the landmark climate-change bill from 2020 through 2030, lifting a cloud of uncertainty that had been dampening the market.

The Los Angeles Times contributed to this story