Senate Presents Cap-and-Trade Expenditure Plan to Mitigate Climate Impacts and Increase Access to Clean Energy

Ambitious Proposals Focus on Communities Most Impacted by Air Pollution

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Recognizing the urgent need to act on climate change and taking advantage of California’s hallmark environmental programs, the California State Senate today presented an ambitious spending proposal to increase access to clean energy and build more resilient communities across the state. The proposal (AB 1613) allocates $1.2 billion in unspent revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade auctions for programs that prioritize communities most impacted by air pollution, such as Los Angeles and the Central Valley which suffer from the worst air quality in the nation, and build infrastructure that can reduce carbon emissions.

“We have the opportunity to follow through on the promise of cap and trade, which is to use polluters’ dollars to clean up the air we breathe,” said California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). “Working families in our most economically disadvantaged and polluted areas deserve to benefit from investments now so they have access to the cleanest technologies and the tools to make their communities more livable.”

“Californians support the leadership role the state has taken to improve our environment and these funds will help make California more resilient and better prepared for the climate change impacts that are before us,” said Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), the chair of the Senate’s Environmental Quality Committee. 

"California must immediately invest in programs that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, starting with our most overburdened communities. The Senate's greenhouse gas reduction spending plan steers us in that direction, and we urge the Assembly and the Administration to work with Senate leadership to pass an ambitious plan," said Quentin Foster, Policy Advocate with California Environmental Justice Alliance. 

“The American Lung Association in California strongly supports the Senate’s proposal to allocate $1.2 billion in cap and trade funds and calls on the Legislature and the Governor to act quickly to approve it,” said Vanessa Marvin, Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy for the American Lung Association in California. “Investments in cleaner cars, cleaner trucks, transit and zero emission solutions reduce toxic emissions and contribute to healthier lungs and less chronic illness in all communities.  The increased smog and health impacts we’ve experienced recently in Southern California demonstrate the critical need to get cap and trade funds working in our communities.”

The Senate expenditure plan spends the portion of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) that is discretionary and subject to direct appropriation by the Legislature (40 percent). Under current law, the remaining cap-and-trade revenues (60 percent) are automatically allocated for other purposes, including high speed rail, public transit, and grants for sustainable communities and housing. The Senate plan is purposely crafted so this limited funding can be dispersed immediately and into projects that have the highest impact in reducing carbon pollution and empower communities in transitioning to a low-carbon economy.


  • $400 million for low-carbon and low-polluting transportation programs.  
  • $100 million on strategic transit investments that improve traffic flow.  


  • $175 million for a new transformative communities program to convert highly-polluted and high-carbon communities into clean and sustainable communities.
  • $100 million for energy efficiency upgrades and weatherization for low-income families.
  • $100 million for urban greening projects.
  • The Senate plan is written to ensure disadvantaged communities as defined by CalEPA under SB 535 criteria get highest priority for funding. Programs include rebates for cleaner cars as well as financial support for solar panels, energy efficiency upgrades, and weatherization. The plan also allocates funds for restoring coastal wetlands, healthy forests, and low-carbon farming practices in all parts of the state.


  • The Senate plan allocates GGRF to key priorities for members in the Assembly and Senate, as well as the Governor:
    • ​​AB 1550 (Gomez) Requires that 25 percent of GGRF funds be awarded to projects located in disproportionately impacted communities and 5 percent to projects that benefit low-income communities.
    • AB 2293 (C. García) Establishes a technical assistance program for small businesses and non-profits.
    • AB 2722 (Burke) Appropriates GGRF to the Strategic Growth Council to create the Transformative Climate Communities Program, and specifies that the program fund grants for "transformative climate community plans" in DACs.
    • SB 20 (Pavley) Establishes low carbon fuel council to streamline deployment of GGRF funds for low polluting transportation.
    • SB 1350 (Wolk) Establishes Healthy Soils low carbon agriculture program funded with GGRF funds.
    • SB 1383 (Lara)  Establishes new targets to reduce short lived climate pollution such as methane, black carbon, and refrigerants that, while lower in volume, have much great climate warming impacts.
    • SB 1425 (Pavley) Allocates funds for water and energy efficiency investments.