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Biden uses executive power to create a New Deal-style American Climate Corps

by Andrew Wright
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Climate Corps

President Joe Biden, faced with congressional obstacles, has invoked his executive authority to establish an American Climate Corps, drawing inspiration from the New Deal era. This initiative, announced by the White House, is set to be a significant green jobs training program, employing over 20,000 young adults.

The primary objective of the American Climate Corps is to tackle conservation efforts and mitigate the risk of catastrophic wildfires. These young adults will engage in various activities, including trail construction, tree planting, and assisting in the installation of solar panels.

Interestingly, the concept of a climate corps was initially part of a comprehensive climate law passed last year but was removed due to strong Republican opposition and cost concerns. However, Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups persisted in advocating for its creation, eventually prompting President Biden to issue an executive order to establish the American Climate Corps.

Varshini Prakash, the executive director of the Sunrise Movement, an environmental organization at the forefront of this campaign, expressed her satisfaction, stating, “After years of demonstrating and fighting for a Climate Corps, we turned a generational rallying cry into a real jobs program that will put a new generation to work stopping the climate crisis.”

This initiative, reminiscent of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, aims to provide career pathways in clean energy, conservation, and climate resilience for young people. It has garnered support from more than 50 Democratic lawmakers, including prominent figures like Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who see it as a historic step toward realizing the vision of the Green New Deal.

However, the exact cost and funding mechanisms for the American Climate Corps remain undisclosed by the White House. While Democrats argue that funds from recent climate and infrastructure legislation can serve as a “down payment” for the program, Republicans have criticized it as an unnecessary expenditure.

Nonetheless, the American Climate Corps emerges in an era vastly different from the 1930s, with a strong economy and a focus on diversity within its workforce. It will collaborate with federal agencies and several states to offer job training and diverse service opportunities aimed at addressing climate-related challenges, from coastal wetland restoration to clean energy projects and wildfire prevention.

In parallel, the Environmental Protection Agency is launching a grant competition, funded by the 2022 climate law, to support community-driven climate solutions and advance environmental justice.

The establishment of the American Climate Corps signifies a significant step in addressing climate change, providing employment opportunities for young adults and bolstering conservation efforts. However, its full impact and funding details remain subjects of debate and scrutiny in the political landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Climate Corps

What is the American Climate Corps?

The American Climate Corps is a green jobs training program initiated by President Joe Biden through an executive order. It aims to employ more than 20,000 young adults to engage in various conservation and climate-related activities.

How does the American Climate Corps address climate change?

This program focuses on conservation efforts, including trail construction, tree planting, and the installation of solar panels, to mitigate the risk of catastrophic wildfires. Its broader goal is to contribute to climate resilience and sustainability.

Why was the American Climate Corps created through executive action?

The American Climate Corps was established through executive authority after facing opposition and cost concerns in Congress. President Biden’s executive order was a response to persistent advocacy by Democrats and environmental groups.

What is the historical context of the American Climate Corps?

The program draws inspiration from the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s, a part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. However, it operates in a different economic and social landscape, with a more diverse workforce.

What is the significance of the American Climate Corps?

The American Climate Corps is seen as a historic step toward addressing climate change, providing employment opportunities for young adults, and advancing conservation efforts. It is also aligned with the vision of the Green New Deal, supported by some Democrats.

How is the American Climate Corps funded?

While the exact funding details are not disclosed, Democrats suggest using funds from recent climate and infrastructure legislation as a “down payment” for the program. However, it has faced criticism from Republicans for its cost.

What other initiatives complement the American Climate Corps?

The Environmental Protection Agency is launching a grant competition, funded by the 2022 climate law, to support community-driven climate solutions and environmental justice, which aligns with the goals of the Climate Corps.

More about Climate Corps

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