Inspired by the New Deal-era Civil Conservation Corps, President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats are pushing for a modern counterpart: a Civil Climate Corps that would create hundreds of thousands of jobs building trails, restoring streams, and helping to prevent catastrophic wildfires.
Building on Biden’s often-repeated comment that when you think about climate change, you think about jobs, the White House says the $ 10 billion program would address both priorities as young adults find work installing solar panels, planting trees, digging irrigation ditches and boosting the exterior. recreation.
“We must seize this opportunity to build a great and bold path to critical careers, for a diverse generation of Americans ready to take on this existential crisis that we face,” said Ali Zaidi, deputy White House climate adviser. “National service meets careers that support family and the moment.”
The effort comes as the White House and many Democrats are stepping up their focus on climate change after a series of devastating storms that recently hit much of the nation. Touring neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey this week that were devastated by flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, Biden said climate change has become “everyone’s crisis.”
“The threat is here. It’s not getting better, ”Biden said. “The question is, can it get worse?”
The proposed climate body was not included in a Senate-approved bipartisan infrastructure bill, but it is a key part of a democrat-backed $ 3.5 trillion pop-up package to help families and address climate change. A House vote on both bills could occur before the end of the month.
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Rep. Joe Neguse, a Colorado Democrat who co-sponsored a climate body bill, said it’s important to train the next generation of land managers, park rangers, and other stewards of our U.S. natural resources.
“This bold investment is a necessary response to the climate crisis and prioritizes the maintenance and conservation of public lands,” he said.
While the jobs should pay at least $ 15 an hour, those likely to join the climate corps “aren’t doing it for compensation,” Neguse said. “They know that it is important to connect with nature and do important work for their state and the nation.”
Details are still being worked out, but Neguse and other Democrats say the program should pay “a living wage” while offering health care coverage and support for child care, housing, transportation and education.
David Popp, a professor of public administration at Syracuse University, said a key distinction between the original Civilian Conservation Corps and the new climate contingent is that America’s economy is not in a depression, big or not, as it was during the Franklin D. Roosevelt crisis. presidency.
Biden and the Democrats push the Civilian Climate Corps in echo of the New Deal. #Climate Change #USPoli #CCC
While US employers added just 235,000 jobs in August, the unemployment rate dropped slightly to 5.2% as the economy continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Most of the people targeted by the new climate body “could find employment elsewhere,” Popp said, noting a proliferation of help-seeking posters in retailers across the country.
“I don’t know if an unemployed coal worker in West Virginia is going to move to Montana to take a minimum wage job to restore streams,” he said.
On the other hand, some of your own students are highly motivated by the climate crisis and may want to spend a year or two in outdoor work that helps tackle an existential threat to the planet, Popp said.
“Many young people have a great passion for the environment and can see this as an opportunity to do something about the environment and still get paid for it,” he said.
Republicans largely dismiss the climate body as a benevolent proposal that would waste money and could even take jobs from workers displaced by the pandemic and the push for so-called green jobs.
“My grandfather worked for the CCC, and I remember him telling me how terrible it was, how exhausting the work was,” said Arkansas Rep. Bruce Westerman, the top Republican on the House Committee on Natural Resources.
“We don’t need another FDR program, and the idea that this will help land management is also a misconception,” Westerman said.
At a committee meeting last week, Rep. Cliff Bentz, Republican of Oregon, called the proposed climate body “delusional,” adding: “Why would we think people are going to suddenly jump into really, really difficult things? , dirty and dangerous? work because we offer them $ 15 an hour? That’s not going to happen. “
In a widely circulated article, the conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal said Democrats want to “expand government to all corners of American life. It is not enough to preach Americans about the alleged dangers of climate change. Now it is not enough. they also want to collect taxes. ” and other Americans to pay their children to spend years lecturing him. ”
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, a prominent supporter of the climate body, said such criticisms overlook important benefits.
The program will help communities recover from weather disasters like Hurricane Ida and wildfires in the west while creating “well-paying jobs that can turn into clean economy careers,” Markey said. In the process, the body of climate “will make the country a safer and healthier place that can compete in the global economy,” he added.
“As the west coast fights fires and the east coast fights storms and smoke, the editorial board fights the straw men,” Markey said in a letter to the newspaper.
The urgency of the climate crisis “is reminiscent of past chapters of national mobilization,” Neguse said. “By defending the Civilian Climate Corps, we will build on that legacy and the existing infrastructure to meet today’s challenges.”