For the past 10 years, California has struggled with huge budget deficits and wrenching cuts. Suddenly, however, the state is poised to raise billions from an unusual new source: the proceeds from its landmark global warming law.
The windfall could come as soon as this fall, when state officials are set to begin auctioning off pollution credits to oil refineries, power plants and other major polluters as part of a new "cap-and-trade" system.
"I think the most fair reading of AB 32 is that it did allow the Air Resources Board to create market mechanisms that do include an auction," said attorney Cara Horowitz with UCLA's School of Law. "The Legislature gave the Air Resources Board very broad authority."
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