For years, critics of California’s cap-and-trade program have lambasted it as a government slush fund. They say that politicians are able to dip into it to fund their pet projects or raid it to fill the shortfall of the moment — as long as they can assert a mildly credible connection between the spending and the state’s ambitious goals to fight climate change.
Well, California lawmakers are about to prove those critics right.
They needed money but were too frightened politically to be honest about it.
As part of the budget negotiations, lawmakers shelved Gov. Gavin Newsom’s controversial “water tax” that would have raised $140 million a year to help low-income communities finally clean up their contaminated water systems.
Who needs to get money when there’s this big pile over there.
Instead, lawmakers plan to fund the much-needed water cleanups with $100 million a year in cap-and-trade dollars — money that is paid to the state by polluters and which is legally required to be spent on projects to reduce the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.
Of course the money is supposed to be used for greenhouse gas or other climate disaster mitigation. But the politicians find a way.
So how do leaders justify using cap-and-trade dollars for water cleanups? Newsom’s office said that communities with tainted water need bottled water delivered in trucks that pollute the air. If the water supply is cleaned, that will reduce vehicle emissions.
By that ludicrous logic, California could pay for expanded Medi-Cal benefits with cap-and-trade dollars too, because if people have preventive healthcare, they’ll get sick less and drive to the hospital less and produce fewer greenhouse gases.