Big polluters get help from the state, renewing doubts about California’s climate goals

The 2017 deal, for subsidies worth as much as $350 million, rescued a cliffhanger vote in the Legislature that extended the state’s cap-and-trade program to 2030.

Under cap and trade, industries may pay to pollute by buying allowances in a carbon-trading market. In addition, some receive free allowances from the state. The state Air Resources Board’s staff originally recommended a reduction in free allowances, as called for in the program’s design.

But on Thursday, as the board set its plan for implementing the cap-and-trade extension, it voted to maintain a full supply of free carbon credits to some companies. That vote adopted recommendations from a later staff report.

The move assures industry the maximum state assistance through 2020. The cap-and-trade extension guarantees that level of help from 2021 to 2030.

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