California’s cap-and-trade program generated almost $700 million for the state in the last quarter, the latest strong showing for a key climate change program that was faltering until last year.
The state Air Resources Board reported on Wednesday that businesses once again bought all of the current-year pollution credits sold through the program.
Under cap-and-trade, companies must buy one credit for each ton of greenhouse gases they plan to emit.
Before a deal last July between Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers to extend the program, it was set to expire in 2020, and businesses were only sporadically buying those credits. A state cap-and-trade auction in August 2016 raised just $8.4 million.
But since that deal, the state has sold out of every current-year credit it’s offered. That has generated nearly $3 billion for the state over four quarterly auctions, compared to less than a billion dollars over the previous year.
Some analysts worry businesses are stocking up on too many credits, so they can continue to pollute as climate change goals tighten. But for now the state is swimming in money designated for clean energy programs and the state’s high-speed rail project.
Correction: Our on-air version of this story and audio previously attached to this post contained an error. It said the cap-and-trade program generated almost $700 billion. It should have said $700 million.