Monday, March 3, 2014

California's Brown Wants to Use Cap-and-Trade Revenue to Fund HSR

Image source: California High Speed Rail Authority

California's Governor Jerry Brown is proposing the use of cap-and-trade revenue from the state's greenhouse reduction program to provide long-term funding for California's high-speed rail project. According to Governing, Brown's "plan would annually shift a third of all 'cap-and-trade' revenue, generated through fees on polluters, to help build the first leg of the rail line, which is supposed to stretch from Merced to the San Fernando Valley by 2022."  This proposal has the potential to provide billions of dollars towards high speed rail over the next couple of years.

This proposal has not received a warm welcome from everyone, including environmental groups and legislative analysts.  Environmental groups would like to see the money spent on projects that would would have a more immediate impact on air quality.  According to Sierra Club California Director Kathryn Phillips,  "The best use of the cap-and-trade funds is to invest them in projects that are out there now that can get us near-term emission reductions."  Legislative analysts question the legality of the proposal, "which won't help the state meet its goal of cutting emissions to 1990 levels by 2020." Brown's administration disagrees, saying the money used on the high speed rail "is a valid use of cap-and-trade funding because the project will help reduce emissions in the long run."

Even if lawmakers approve this use of cap-and-trade revenue, more money, including the use of investments by the private sector and additional federal grants, will be necessary to complete the project.

For more information, read the entire Governing article, "Jerry Brown: Make Polluters Fund High-Speed Rail Project", written by Chris Megerian and Ralph Vartabedian. 

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