California Gov. Jerry Brown's new budget plan estimates the state will take in $200 million this year from the sale of greenhouse gas permits sold in the state’s cap-and-trade program, which puts a price on carbon emitted from power plants, cement factories and other industries.

Earlier estimates put that number as high as $1 billion.

The cap-and-trade money can be spent only on programs that further the goals of California’s global warming law, AB 32, in limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Some of it is also being returned to utility ratepayers in the form of a dividend meant to offset rate increases due to cap-and-trade and to help with air quality programs in poor areas. 

While there are few details about exactly how this windfall will be spent, the budget gives some hints.

High-speed rail is at the top of the list, in part because vehicles are the top source of greenhouse gas emissions. Not only would high-speed rail infrastructure be funded, but the budget says “electrification and energy projects that complement high speed rail” will also benefit.

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