Charging Polluters

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Our Air, Our Jobs,
Our Neighborhoods

Air pollution hurts us all. It damages our health, shortens our lives and even changes the very climate we all depend on. In 2006, California said, “Enough!” We passed a smart law called AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, designed to help us take control of our air and our future. It committed our state to cutting carbon pollution (the “greenhouse gases” that damage our climate) back down to 1990 levels by 2020.

Thanks to this law, big industrial polluters like power plants have to pay for the right to put pollution into our air. Under a program called “cap-and-trade,” they have to buy permits to pollute that are auctioned by the state of California. The amount of pollution that’s allowed goes down a little every year. By making it cost more to foul our air, this gives polluters a good reason to cut pollution and make our air cleaner.

Just as important, the sale of carbon permits raises lots of money: $872 million the first year alone, and as much as $2.7 billion in 2016. That money goes into a special fund, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The law says that the money in this fund must go to help cut pollution even more.

That money is already being put to work on projects that Californians have identified as things we need in our communities. For a detailed history of AB 32 and related laws, click here. To see how the money is going to help our communities, see Investing in Our Neighborhoods.

The Polluters Want to Fool You!

The oil industry and others who profit from fouling our air are going to great lengths to kill California’s new clean-energy economy. They’ve even set up front groups, pretending to be the voice of ordinary consumers or small business owners in order to confuse Californians. Don’t let them fool you! To learn what they’re up to, click here.