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Almost $391 million in cap-and-trade dollars awarded to public transit projects across California

Passengers at the Expo Line Culver City station. (Los Angeles Times)
Passengers at the Expo Line Culver City station. (Los Angeles Times)

Transportation officials have selected 14 public transit projects across California for a slice of proceeds from the state's auction of greenhouse gas pollution credits, almost $391 million in spending between now and the summer of 2018.

"Every dollar we invest has to have a greenhouse gas benefit," said Brian Kelly, secretary of the California Transportation Agency.

The list of projects unveiled Tuesday includes more than $109 million for Los Angeles' subway system, including funds for the planned connection to LAX. Another $28 million would help fund a streetcar project in Orange County linking Santa Ana and Garden Grove.

The announcement comes on the same day state officials participate in another auction of carbon emission credits, purchased by companies so that they can exceed the mandated emissions cap.

An auction in May produced only a fraction of the expected proceeds, and the long-term viability of the cap-and-trade program is at issue in one of the state Capitol's most closely watched political debates this month. 

The dollars awarded Tuesday are part of an earmarked portion of cap-and-trade revenue that includes money for high-speed rail. Lawmakers continue to debate how to spend the remaining auction proceeds.

Transportation officials said the list of potential projects far outstrips what's been set aside for public transit.

"We wish there was more," said Kelly.

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