CARB Agrees to Use Some Cap-and-Trade Funds for HSR
Today the California Air Resources Board voted to spend cap-and-trade revenues on high speed rail, among other uses:
The state Air Resources Board voted today to support the proposal from the state Finance Department to invest the first three years of revenue from the allowance auctions on carbon- reducing projects including high-speed rail, zero-emissions vehicles, low-income housing retrofits and urban forestry.
California Governor Jerry Brown proposed last year using as much as $500 million a year in revenue from the carbon sales to pay for a high-speed rail project linking the state’s largest cities. The air board has so far generated $138 million from its first two allowance auctions and will hold one more on May 16 for this fiscal year, which ends June 30.
$500 million a year would be a big boost for high speed rail. Over 20 years, that’s $10 billion and would go a long way toward getting the full route built from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Of course, that assumes that the auctions generate more than $500 million per year. As the report noted, the total sum this fiscal year has been $138 million. But as the system gets under way, and as carbon emission allowances get reduced over time, the allowances will increase in value and generate more revenue.
This is one potential way that California can bypass DC and fanatic Congressional Republican opposition to rail funding. True, it won’t cover the remaining $50 billion or so that need to be found once you count Prop 1A and federal stimulus. But the only way to get to that sum is by adding money here and there where you can. This is a smart move by CARB and I hope Governor Jerry Brown continues to seek ways to fund this important project.