SACRAMENTO — California's ambitious efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are taking a hit as demand has plummeted for pollution credits that are supposed to fund the initiative.
Only about a tenth of the available pollution credits were sold in an auction last week, according to results released Wednesday by the California Air Resources Board. Gov. Jerry Brown's administration says revenue from the program was $600 million short of the $2.4 billion anticipated in the current fiscal year.
Brown built a cushion in his budget proposal, but the shortfall will still force the Democratic governor and state lawmakers to scale back their ambitions for the money. A quarter of the revenue is earmarked for Brown's high-speed rail project, with the rest funding a wide variety of programs aimed at reducing emissions or mitigating the damage from climate change.
What programs to fund and how much to spend will be the subject of negotiations with the Legislature, said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for Brown's Department of Commerce.
California launched the pollution-restriction program in 2012. Known as cap and trade, the program is designed to control emissions of heat-trapping gases and to spur investment in clean technologies. It limits how much pollution businesses can spew, making them buy permits, which are auctioned quarterly or sold on the secondary market.