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California's most recent cap-and-trade permit auction raises more than $800 million

Gov. Jerry Brown, flanked by lawmakers, appears at a news conference after the Legislature approved extending California's cap-and-trade program. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Gov. Jerry Brown, flanked by lawmakers, appears at a news conference after the Legislature approved extending California's cap-and-trade program. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California’s cap-and-trade program received another boost Tuesday, with its most recent permit auction reaching record-high sales, according to details released by regulators Tuesday.

The regular auctions are a key feature of the program, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Cap and trade is one of the state’s main strategies to combat climate change.

In November’s auction, every permit offered by the state was sold, and prices reached their highest-level in the program’s five-year history.

The auction results released Tuesday were the second straight strong showing since state lawmakers extended the cap-and-trade program through 2030.

“That really shows the continued certainty and long-term confidence of the market that was established with the extension of the cap-and-trade program in July,” said Erica Morehouse, a senior attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund, who monitors the results.

During each auction, the state sets a minimum price per permit, which was $13.57 in the latest round. Bidding led to a final price of $15.06, the highest above the minimum since 2013.

Analysts estimated the auction would bring in $862 million in revenue for the state’s greenhouse gas reduction fund. Money from that program pays for low-income housing projects, electric car rebates, the proposed bullet train and other programs.

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