Phillip Matier And Andrew Ross
Updated 3:02 am, Monday, June 9, 2014
California drivers are going to see a bump at the pump starting Jan. 1 – with a good chunk of the money going to kick-start Gov. Jerry Brown’s struggling high-speed rail project.
Reason: Starting next year, tailpipe emissions from cars and trucks will come under California’s cap-and-trade program, which is designed to reduce greenhouse gases.
The result will probably be increased costs to gas wholesalers, who in turn will pass them along to drivers.
Estimates on the price vary. Industry insiders are predicting a jump of 15 to 20 cents a gallon, while clean-air advocates say it may be less.
“The best guess at this point is that it is not going to go up much over 12 cents a gallon – but it definitely won’t go down,” said Severin Borenstein of the University of California Energy Institute.
Rough estimates have the gas money amounting to $2 billion to $3 billion a year, according to state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, chairman of the Senate’s budget committee.
Brown wants a third of it to shore up funding for the proposed bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The rail project is facing a court challenge because it lacks a steady source of money.
State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, is proposing a long-term plan that would devote 15 percent of the gas cap-and-trade revenue to high-speed rail.
Either way, the remaining billions will be split between other transit operations, clean-energy and water projects, and a fund to build more affordable housing and “sustainable communities” along transit corridors.
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