Jerry Brown wants to use pollution funds for bullet train


Gov. Jerry Brown will ask state lawmakers to use funds raised from the sale of pollution credits to help pay for the state’s beleaguered high-speed rail program, according to sources familiar with the proposal who were not authorized to speak publicly about the plan.

Under its “cap-and-trade” credit system, the state has generated millions from polluters who pay for the right to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Last year, Brown and state lawmakers used the money generated from those auctions -- an estimated $500 million -- to help balance the state’s books, raising protests from environmental groups who wanted the money to be used for clean energy projects.

Auctions scheduled for the upcoming year are expected to raise hundreds of millions more, but administration sources refused to reveal how much the governor would ask lawmakers to allocate for his bullet-train project.


Brown has sold his plan for a high-speed railway as an environmentally friendly alternative to air or automobile travel, but the plan has lost popularity with the public, been derided by Republican leaders in Congress and been dealt a number of legal setbacks in the courts.

In 2008, California voters approved the sale of $10 billion in bonds to help pay for the bullet train, but the courts have questioned Brown’s construction and financing plan for the project. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer said he will not sell any more bonds to pay for the project until the courts determine that the governor’s plan is legal.


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