Workshops: How Should CA Spend Cap-and-Trade Revenue?

This...or this...or something else?
This…or this…or something else?

The California Air Resources Board announced a series of public workshops that will address two subjects pertaining to cap-and-trade auction proceeds.

First is the question of what programs and projects should be funded by cap-and-trade in the future. By law, the auction proceeds must be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and a portion must benefit disadvantaged communities. So far, programs have been set up to use the money for high speed rail, affordable housing, transit, clean vehicle incentives, weatherization and energy efficiency, water energy efficiency, and alternative fuels.

The Department of Finance is required to submit an investment plan for cap-and-trade to the legislature every three years, and the one currently being developed is for the years 2016-17 through 2018-19.A draft concept paper for the investment plan that outlines the board’s current thinking on future investments will form the basis of the workshops; that document is scheduled for posting on the ARB website some time today.

The second subject to be addressed at the workshops is guidelines for all state agencies that receive funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), which is where the cap-and-trade revenues go. The draft guidelines, available here, include guiding principals for GGRF programs as well as reporting requirements.

The guiding principals are not limited to helping the state reach its climate change goals; they include benefits to disadvantaged communities, coordinating investments among agencies, job creation, transparency, accountability, and outreach. It is crucial that the project tracking and reporting requirements meaningfully reflect these principals if the state is to be able to measure results from its climate change investments.

Creating methods for measuring greenhouse gas emission reductions is an ongoing project. Some methods are being developed by ARB, but some have been developed by agencies or even applicants for funding, with input from the ARB. These methods are not included in the draft guidelines, and for that reason many of the reporting requirements are vague. For example, high-speed rail has very general reporting requirements such as “milestones achieved” and estimated greenhouse gas emission reductions over the life of the project, but includes no specifics about near-term emission reductions from early phase projects are required.

The guidelines supplement discusses in more detail two issues that the ARB particularly seeks feedback on: transparency and benefits to disadvantaged communities. It contains language that ARB staff is considering adding to the guidelines to clarify both those issues.

The workshops will be held between August 3 and August 13, as listed below. Written comments on the investment plan are due by September 1 here.

Monday, August 3, 1 to 5 p.m. at CalEPA Headquarters Building, 1001 I Street, Byron Sher Auditorium
    (This workshop will also be webcast here.)
: Tuesday, August 4, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, 1990 East Gettysburg Avenue (This workshop will also be available via live feed in Modesto, at 4800 Enterprise Way, and in Bakersfield, at 34946 Flyover Court)
: Thursday, August 6, 6 to 9 p.m. at Southside Oroville Community Center, 2959 Lower Wyandotte Road
Monday, August 10, 5 to 8 p.m. at Elihu M. Harris Building, 1515 Clay Street
Wednesday, August 12, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hilton Garden Inn, 10543 Sierra Avenue
Wednesday, August 12, 6 to 9 p.m. at Junipero Serra State Building, 320 West 4th Street, Carmel Room Auditorium
 Thursday, August 13, 5 to 7 p.m. at San Diego Association of Governments, 401 B Street, 7th Floor, Board Room


The Confusion About Cap-and-Trade

In “With cap and trade in doubt, key questions go unanswered,” a recent article in Cal Matters, writer Julie Cart described “a scathing bipartisan scolding” by state lawmakers of the California Air Resources Board “over a lack of transparency” with the cap-and-trade program. Legislators are talking about doing an audit. But lack of transparency may […]
Attendees at previous workshops on CalEnviroScreen grapple with how to define a "disadvantaged community." Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

Workshops Will Help Define Which Communities Get Cap-and-Trade Funds

State law requires a certain portion of California's cap-and-trade money go to communities that have traditionally been overlooked when it comes to public investment. Public workshops this week and next will continue exploring the question of how the state should define "disadvantaged communities" as well as how to assess benefits to those communities.