Biden launches American Climate Corps to train the green workforce

Biden launches American Climate Corps to train the green workforce

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his administration’s environmental efforts at the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center and Preserve in Palo Alto, California, on June 19, 2023. 

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday announced a program that will aim to train 20,000 young people for climate-focused jobs related to clean energy, land restoration, forest management and more.

The American Climate Corps is a federal effort to “ensure more young people have access to the skills-based training necessary for good-paying careers in the clean energy and climate resilience economy,” the White House said in a press release. In addition to training, the program also intends to be a pipeline for participants to get hired into green jobs.

This isn’t Biden’s first effort at building a green workforce.

In 2021, he proposed spending $30 billion on a Civilian Climate Corps, which would have had over 300,000 members, as a part of the larger Build Back Better Act bill, the framework of Biden’s climate agenda. The Civilian Climate Corps appeared to be a modern version of the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, a program for unmarried young men to train for jobs in public land and forest improvement.

Biden’s CCC was eventually left out of the Inflation Reduction Act, the $430 billion package that poured a record $369 billion into climate policy initiatives, which Congress passed in August 2022. In the meantime, some states have been starting their own programs, but Democratic congressmembers have been waiting on federal-level action.

This move is an executive action, and won’t require congressional approval. The White House didn’t announce how much it was spending on the program.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) speaks at a press conference urging the inclusion of the Civilian Climate Corps., a climate jobs program, in the budget reconciliation bill, outside of the U.S. Capitol on July 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

Today’s launch comes two days after 51 congressmembers signed a letter to Biden putting pressure on him to file an executive order to revive the Civilian Climate Corps that got left behind in the creation of the IRA.

“We urge you to issue an Executive Order to establish a federal Civilian Climate Corps so we can prepare a whole generation of workers for good-paying, dignified, union jobs, and build the workforce we need for the robust green economy of tomorrow,” the congressmembers wrote in the letter.

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