President Biden is utilizing his executive authority to establish an American Climate Corps, reminiscent of the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps, after Congress failed to approve a similar initiative. This program aims to employ more than 20,000 young adults who will engage in conservation efforts such as building trails, planting trees, and installing solar panels to address climate change and mitigate wildfires.
This move comes as President Biden seeks to appeal to young voters in the 2024 campaign. While initially critical of President Biden’s approval of the Willow oil-drilling project in Alaska, environmental activists, including the Sunrise Movement, welcomed the American Climate Corps as a positive step.
Over 50 Democratic lawmakers, including Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, supported the creation of a climate corps, citing the urgent need for action in response to climate-related disasters like heatwaves, floods, and wildfires.
While the cost of the program remains unspecified, it is designed to prepare a new generation of workers for clean energy and conservation jobs. Critics argue that the climate corps could be wasteful and may take jobs away from workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new climate corps, unlike the original Civilian Conservation Corps, operates in a healthier economy and aims to be more diverse. It will collaborate with federal agencies and multiple states on various climate-related projects, such as wetland restoration, clean energy initiatives, wildfire prevention, and energy-efficient solutions.
This initiative coincides with the Environmental Protection Agency’s launch of a $4.6 billion grant competition to support climate pollution reduction and environmental justice efforts at the community level.
Despite opposition and concerns about cost, the American Climate Corps has gained momentum and support from Democrats and environmental advocacy groups, signaling a potential step toward broader climate solutions like the Green New Deal.