Plan to Spend $1.2 Billion in Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds

The California Senate today introduced a plan to spend $1.2 billion in Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds collected from the sale of pollution allowances, which will help drive more money—and benefits—to emissions reduction projects throughout the state, particularly in the hardest-hit communities.

We look forward to working with the Senate, Assembly, and Governor Jerry Brown to hammer out additional details and enact a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) spending plan before the legislature adjourns on August 31. The bill, AB 1613, must first be considered by both houses of the legislature, along with a companion bill, AB 1629.

The money, which has been “collecting dust” for two years now, represents the proceeds from California’s quarterly cap-and-trade auctions, a cornerstone of the state’s groundbreaking plan to slash carbon pollution and implement the goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32). Under the cap-and-trade program, the state's largest emitters are required to acquire a shrinking pool of permits (known as allowances) for every ton of pollution they emit, which puts a price on pollution to help level the playing field for clean energy.

The program also puts a hard limit on pollution to ensure California achieves its targets of reducing carbon emissions.

The GGRF funds that have been allocated to date are providing numerous benefits to our communities, our neighborhoods, our economy and our environment. They provide a new influx of money and investment in communities that have traditionally been left behind in periods of economic growth and prosperity. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund is one important piece of California’s climate program and helps demonstrate to the world that climate change policies can drive investment throughout the state, and especially in disadvantaged communities. The Uplift California website contains some in depth personal stories of Californians who have benefitted from Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund investments.   

Unfortunately, last year the legislature and Governor Brown didn’t agree on an expenditure plan so the funds have been sitting in an account waiting to go to work for California. The Senate’s action today is very welcome news. The Senate plan would direct money to projects including: transit, clean cars and trucks, urban greening, and waste diversion. 

Our legislative leaders and Governor Brown should approve a cap-and-trade expenditure plan this year. We are only starting to see benefits from climate investments in our communities with cleaner cars, energy efficiency, solar power, access to transit, and more. With the release of its plan today, the Senate recognizes that we must get more money out the door now to help people throughout California.  

We can’t afford to delay.