Possible Detour for "Cap & Trade" Auction Revenues
Gov. Jerry Brown wants to redirect money from California's "cap-and-trade" program to help balance the state budget. Many groups say the money should be used as the law intended - to help fight climate change, boost the clean-energy economy, and clean up air pollution.
Vien Truong, director of environmental equity for The Greenlining Institute, said Brown's proposal violates the state's promise to spend the money on greenhouse gas-reducing activities, especially in disadvantaged communities.
"We believe it should be invested in things that have triple bottom-line benefits," she said, "like creating good jobs, reducing pollution and creating investments into areas that have been sorely underinvested for a long time."
Truong said Brown's proposal reminds her of a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "Justice too long delayed is justice denied."
"And that's more true now than ever before, especially in communities of color where people are battling to breathe, where our neighbors have been looking for jobs for years now and we now see a surplus," Truong said. "Instead of using it where we need to invest it most, Gov. Brown wants to sit on it for a year. That's just not tolerable."
Holly Smithson, president and chief operating officer of CleanTECH San Diego, said a lot of clean-energy businesses have been planning based on these funds.
"This has been in the making for several years," Smithson said. "And then for this to be completely redirected really smacks in the face of the businesses. What do all businesses despise more than anything? It's uncertainty."
The Legislative Analyst's Office has suggested there isn't a need to take the money from cap and trade because tax revenues are expected to be higher than what Brown has predicted. A spokesman for the state Environmental Protection Agency says the delay will give the state more time to identify which projects to select.