Jerry Brown Defends Cap-and-Trade Plan, Proposes Infrastructure Funding Plan
Today was an eventful day for Governor Jerry Brown and his efforts to fund the California high speed rail project. First, he defended his proposal to use $250 million a year in cap-and-trade revenues for high speed rail:
Just so you know, Governor, I’m not one of these Twitter-holics (despite what the numbers might show). I’m with you that it’s time to get this done rather than think about instant gratification.
Here’s a transcript of the governor’s remarks on the topic from the Sac Bee:
“I’ve looked at the law surrounding AB 32 and the cap-and-trade,” the Democratic governor told reporters in Fresno. “I believe it’s legal, my lawyers believe it’s lawful. It’s a very appropriate source of funding.”
Some environmentalists have criticized the use of cap-and-trade money for rail, saying other projects could reduce greenhouse gas emissions more immediately.
“Yes, it’s long-term,” Brown said. “But we aren’t all, you know, Twitter-holics that have to have instant gratification after 140 characters. We can take a few years and build for the future, and that’s my sense here, that I’m coming back to be governor after all these years. … It’s been on my list for a long time, and I think we’ve got to get it done. And we do need that funding, and it’s legal, and I hope the Legislature will support it.”
Over the weekend, the Sac Bee editorial board endorsed Brown’s plan to use cap-and-trade funds for HSR, rightly noting that it’s an essential part of the state’s work to reach the 2050 CO2 reduction goals and that the California Air Resources Board already included it in their investment plan.
One Sacramento leader who is not quite as sold on the cap-and-trade plan is Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg:
Steinberg: “That’s what the administration I think has to answer, if the cap and trade revenue fits into an overall credible funding plan I’m open to considering it. But standing alone, it doesn’t make sense to me, unless we understand how we’re actually going to get from the southern part of the valley to Southern California.”
Steinberg isn’t throwing cold water on the idea, so his comments shouldn’t be read with too much concern. But he should understand that the cap-and-trade funds are key to unlocking a new funding plan, that without those funds there’s really no way to get to a funding plan that works in the absence of Congress.
Speaking of funding plans, today Governor Brown announced his 2014 Infrastructure Plan and it includes some information about high speed rail. And I emphasize the word “some”:
The Plan assumes $25.6 billion will be available from various funds including federal funds, Cap and Trade funds, Prop 1A bond funds, and other sources to help accomplish the Authority’s goals over the next five years.
That’s the sum total of the description of how HSR will be funded. In other words, it’s not very detailed. And it’s not really intended to be. The real document that matters will be the revised HSR business plan, due this spring. That will help answer the question of how to fund HSR in the Tea Party era as well as address the legal requirements of the Authority laid down in the recent lawsuit brought by Kings County.