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June 24, 2014 > State legislature adopts landmark expenditure plan

State legislature adopts landmark expenditure plan

Submitted By Bernice Alaniz

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation AuthorityÕs (VTA) BART Silicon Valley Project, Phase II, is positioned well to receive unanticipated funding through the StateÕs Cap and Trade Program, included in the 2014-15 state budget spending plan that the California Legislature passed on June 15.

Currently, the second phase of VTAÕs planned extension of the regional BART system is in project development. This 24-month project phase includes refining the project scope, state and federal environmental reviews and identifying and solidifying a funding plan. Up until now, the funding plan was comprised of only local and federal money.

The adopted budget bill and a series of Òtrailer billsÓ implement two aspects of the Cap and Trade expenditure plan: a budget year (2014-15) appropriation with fixed dollar amounts going to specified programs; and, in 2015-16 and thereafter, specified programs will receive set percentages of annual Cap and Trade proceeds. Most significantly, beginning in fiscal year 2015, 15 percent of Cap and Trade revenues will be specifically dedicated to regional and local public transit purposes.

VTAÕs BART Silicon Valley Extension Phase II is well positioned to compete for this funding because the project meets the criteria of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, auto trips and vehicle miles travelled, as well as its integration into the overall local, regional and state transit network, including the future high speed rail system. As such, VTA will diligently pursue Cap and Trade revenues to supplement local and federal dollars and meet its long-standing commitment to bring BART through downtown San Jose.

Ash Kalra, VTA Board Chair states, ÒTransportation contributes nearly 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California. Cars, trucks, and transit must be part of any strategy preventing or reducing the impacts of climate change. VTAÕs extension of BART will significantly reduce greenhouse gasses and improve our quality of life here in Silicon Valley.Ó

The Cap and Trade Program aims to combat climate change with an unprecedented and ambitious state-wide limit (the cap) on greenhouse gas emissions and a carbon market (the trade) governed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). CARB will distribute annual allowances to industrial greenhouse gas emitters such as power plants, oil refineries, cement factories and food processors.

The state will reduce the total allotment of allowances by about 3 percent each year, and companies will be required to purchase allowances to cover all of their emissions. They can either buy them from CARB, which holds regular auctions, or from other businesses that have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions. This carbon market provides an economic incentive for emitters to invest in clean energy.

In the coming years, Cap and Trade stands to generate billions of dollars per year to invest in transportation and other efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program is expected to generate $850 million in the 2015 budget year and an estimated $2 billion to $3 billion per year once the program expands to include transportation fuels in January 2015. As part of the 2014-2015 spending plan, legislators specified spending priorities for budget year as well as future year proceeds from the Air Resources BoardÕs Cap and Trade program.

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