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Gov. Brown Signs Plan To Spend $1.5B In Climate Money

Billy Wilson / Flickr

Billy Wilson / Flickr

UPDATED Sept. 18, 9:13 a.m.

California lawmakers have agreed on how to divvy up $1.5 billion of funding generated by the state’s cap-and-trade program.

Measures passed Friday direct most of that money to cutting pollution from the transportation sector, which comprises about 40 percent of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

“California simply cannot meet our long-term climate targets without reducing emissions from transportation,” said Democratic Senate leader Kevin de León.

Under the measures, the state will spend $895 million on clean vehicle programs, especially replacing diesel engines in buses, agricultural equipment, and at ports.

Lawmakers also approved more than $150 million for cleaner farming—including reducing methane from cows. Another $225 million goes to fighting wildfires.

But discussion largely focused on one, recently-added provision, which drew criticism from Republicans and some Democrats.

“We shouldn’t be holding our environmental projects hostage to a fight with one progressive employer,” said Democratic Sen. Steve Glazer.

That employer is Tesla, which the National Labor Relations Board has accused of disrupting unionization efforts by its workers. Under the measures, Tesla and other clean vehicle manufacturers must receive state approval of their treatment of workers, if their vehicles are to remain eligible for state rebates.

Here’s a breakdown of the main funding categories:

  • Diesel engines and the transportation sector: $895 million
  • Local air quality programs: $27 million
  • Agriculture programs, including methane reduction: $165 million
  • Preventing and responding to forest fires: $225 million
  • Recycling and greening: $101 million
  • Climate change preparation: $55 million

Another $32 million helps backfill the revenue lost from removing a fire-fighting tax on rural communities—part of a deal with Republican lawmakers to pass an extension of the cap-and-trade program.

The bill allocates the portion of cap-and-trade that lawmakers have discretion over. The program distributes 60 percent of its revenue automatically to clean energy programs and the state’s high-speed rail project.

Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the measures.

Ben Bradford

Former State Government Reporter

As the State Government Reporter, Ben covered California politics, policy and the interaction between the two. He previously reported on local and state politics, business, energy, and environment for WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Read Full Bio 

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