Thursday, June 01, 2017

Amid Trump Cuts, California Proposes Its Own Energy Moonshot

A pending cap-and-trade bill would earmark hundreds of millions of dollars for clean energy research, as the White House takes aim at federal funding.

(Photograph Credit: Thomas Richter; Lorie Shelley) Click to Enlarge.
An ambitious California cap-and-trade proposal would earmark hundreds of millions of dollars annually for an energy research and development fund, rivaling the investment capacity of the federal energy moonshot program implemented under President Barack Obama.

The proposal offers the latest example of how leaders in the world’s sixth-biggest economy are working to build momentum behind aggressive climate policies and energy research, even as the Trump administration aims to slash funding and roll back regulations.  It would also provide a crucial source of funds for early energy research and development at a point when venture investors have retreated from the space.

Most of the revenue from the proposed program, which State Senator Bob Wieckowski introduced earlier this month, would go directly to California citizens in the form of a climate dividend.  But the bill also sets aside money for a separate infrastructure program and the California Climate and Clean Energy Research Fund (see California Proposes Ambitious New Cap-and-Trade Program).

Wieckowski spokesman Jeff Barbosa confirmed recent political rumblings that the latter fund could be on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars each year.  That may exceed funding for the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which collected more than $290 million last year.  But unlike ARPA-E, initially funded at $400 million as part of the 2009 economic stimulus package, those funds would rise significantly over time as the price floor and ceiling for a metric ton of carbon dioxide climb each year.  California’s proposed cap-and-trade program would establish one of the highest prices on carbon in the world, generating billions annually.

Read more at Amid Trump Cuts, California Proposes Its Own Energy Moonshot

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