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California pollution permits sell at highest price ever

California companies showed strong demand for permits to emit greenhouse gases in the first quarterly auction since lawmakers extended the state's signature program to address climate change.

Cap and trade auction results released Tuesday show permits sold at the highest price ever, $14.75 for current emissions and $14.55 for the future. That's nearly $1 higher than last quarter.

The auction will generate more than $640 million for the state. Sixty percent of the money is earmarked for specific projects, including high-speed rail. Lawmakers are expected to decide this month on a spending plan for the rest.

Polluters must obtain permits for each ton of greenhouse gas emissions that they release. The program was scheduled to expire in 2020 until lawmakers voted last month to extend it until 2030.

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