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Environment & Science

California's second cap-and-trade auction set for Tuesday

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California continues its efforts to combat global warming this week, as the state Air Resources Board auctions off permits for carbon pollution. 

Large polluters, like power plants that burn fossil fuels, send greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In the future, they’ll need permits to do that. The state held its first auction for these permits in November. It raised close to $233 million that will benefit the customers of California’s investor owned utilities and another $55 million for the state’s greenhouse gas reduction fund.

Now comes a second auction that will offer about 12 million permits good over the next three years - plus another 9 million permits for use after that. Each permit represents a metric ton of carbon; that’s about how much you release when you use just over a hundred gallons of gas.

Since the last auction, a judge upheld a part of California’s cap-and-trade program that lets polluters clean up the air in one location while they pollute somewhere else. But opponents to the state’s carbon-cutting policies continue their legal challenges to other aspects of the program.