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Polluter fees could be annual source of bullet train money

Polluter fees could be annual source of bullet train money
An artist's rendering of a completed bullet train station. (California High-Speed Rail Authority)

SACRAMENTO -- California’s bullet train project would receive additional funding every year from the state greenhouse gas reduction program under proposed legislation from Gov. Jerry Brown.

The measure would annually direct one-third of cap-and-trade revenue to the massive construction effort starting in 2015. The money is generated by polluters who pay for the right to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

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The proposed legislation expands on Brown's previously announced one-year plan to use $250 million from the cap-and-trade program to support the bullet train in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. Other sources of funding, including voter-approved bonds, have been tied up by lawsuits.

The measure would help finance the rail line's first segment, which has a price tag of $31 billion and a scheduled completion date of 2022, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.

It's not clear how much money is involved in the proposal because the administration has not detailed estimates of cap-and-trade revenue.

"We believe it will be a growing source of revenue," said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for Brown's Department of Finance.

Brown's pursuit of cap-and-trade money for the bullet train has generated opposition from legislative analysts and environmental advocates. They say building the train is not the most effective way to meet the state's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to the levels that existed in 1990.

Administration officials say building the bullet train is a valid use of the funding because the project will help reduce emissions in the long run.

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Twitter: @chrismegerian

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