Coalition of lawmakers who have championed civilian climate and conservation corps proposals send letter calling on Biden to immediately establish initiative

Letter comes on 30th anniversary of legislation that established AmeriCorps

Senator Markey and Representative Ocasio-Cortez reintroduce Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act

Letter Text (PDF) | Bill Text (PDF)

Washington (September 18, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), along with Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Representatives Judy Chu (CA-28) and Joe Neguse (CO-02), today led 44 of their colleagues—Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Representatives Becca Balint (VT-01), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Cori Bush (MO-01), André Carson (IN-07), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Gerald Connolly (VA-11), Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10), Lloyd Doggett (TX-37), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Maxwell Frost (FL-10), Robert Garcia (CA-42), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Summer Lee (PA-12), James McGovern (MA-02), Kevin Mullin (CA-15), Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-01), Donald Payne (NJ-10), Katie Porter (CA-47), Delia Ramirez (IL-03), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Janice Schakowsky (IL-09), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Jill Tokuda (HI-02), David Trone (MD-06), Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), Nikema Williams (GA-05), and Frederica Wilson (FL-24)—in a letter to the Administration in support of executive action to establish a federally coordinated Civilian Climate Corps initiative.

As champions of various legislative proposals for Civilian Climate and Conservation Corps, the legislators are joining together on the 30th anniversary of the legislation that established AmeriCorps to urge the Biden administration to take urgent action to advance a federal Civilian Climate Corps program that will mobilize Corps members in response to the climate crisis and prepare a whole generation of workers for good-paying union jobs in the clean economy. 

“By leveraging the historic climate funding secured during your Administration, using existing authorities, and coordinating across AmeriCorps and other relevant federal agencies, your Administration can create a federal Civilian Climate Corps that unites its members in an effort to fight climate change, build community resilience, support environmental justice, and develop career pathways to good-paying union jobs focused on climate resilience and a clean economy,” the lawmakers wrote. “As members of Congress who have led on various legislative proposals for Civilian Climate and Conservation Corps, we support your Administration in taking executive action and will continue to fight for additional resources from Congress.”

The lawmakers continued, “A central coordinating body, overseen by the White House, will be essential to create a successful and cohesive Civilian Climate Corps. Through interagency collaboration, as well as coordination with state climate corps, other state entities, and local non-profit organizations, your Administration can realize the vision of a Civilian Climate Corps that establishes a unified front in the face of climate change—one that looks like America, serves America, and puts good-paying union jobs within reach for more young adults.”

In the letter, the lawmakers highlight four key principles for a Civilian Climate Corps initiative created through Executive Action: 

  • The Civilian Climate Corps must take a whole-of-government approach to the climate crisis.
  • The Civilian Climate Corps must prioritize equity in the communities it serves and the Corps members it trains.
  • The Civilian Climate Corps must provide a pathway to long-term employment through good-paying union jobs.
  • The Civilian Climate Corps must center the needs and leadership of local communities in order to achieve its national mission.

As part of their effort to build on the historic success of the Inflation Reduction Act to further advance climate and environmental justice goals outlined in their Green New Deal Resolution, today Senator Markey and Representative Ocasio-Cortez also reintroduced their Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act of 2023, which would establish a robust and equitable Civilian Climate Corps administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service within AmeriCorps. Senators Sanders, Merkley, Warren, Gillibrand, Blumenthal, Welch, and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Representatives Espaillat, Garcia, Khanna, McGovern, Nadler, Norton, Payne, Schakowsky, F. Wilson, Casar, Cleaver, Crockett, Mullin, Ramirez, Tokuda, Connolly, Antonio Cardenas (CA-29), Grace Napolitano (CA-31), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), and Melanie Stansbury (NM-01) are cosponsors.

This legislation updates, modernizes, and expands the concept of the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps: ensuring that all Americans who want to participate may do so, regardless of race, age, or gender; broadening the range of eligible projects; providing 21st century health and education benefits; deepening partnerships with unions; and preserving Tribal sovereignty. In total, it would support 1.5 million Americans over 5 years to complete federally-funded projects that help communities respond to climate change and transition to a clean economy. 

The Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act is endorsed by the Sierra Club, Sunrise Movement, Union of Concerned Scientists, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, SEIU, Food & Water Watch, Indivisible, Progressive Democrats of America, Anthropocene Alliance, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Climate Hawks Vote, United Electrical – Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), Evergreen Action, FracTracker Alliance, MADRE, Marked By COVID, Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action, Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action, Next100, People's Action, WildEarth Guardians, Rachel Carson Council, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Appalachian Mountain Club, Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition, NDN Collective, and National Education Association.

If passed in conjunction with Executive Action on a Civilian Climate Corps, this legislation would support more Corps members, increase compensation and benefits, and expand the scope of the program.