HARRISBURG, PA—Today, President Biden announced the launch of the American Climate Corps, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at providing job training and service opportunities to young Americans in the clean energy and climate resilience sectors. As part of his commitment to addressing the climate crisis and expanding pathways to good-paying careers, President Biden is mobilizing a diverse generation of over 20,000 individuals to work on projects that tackle climate change and promote environmental justice.
A 2021 ReImagine Appalachia whitepaper coauthored by KRC’s executive director Stephen Herzenberg noted the ways that a modern version of the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps could enable tens of thousands of people disconnected from the labor force to find family-sustaining jobs and dignity because they are helping to save the planet.
“By providing job training and the chance for young people to contribute as ‘essential workers of climate response,’ this initiative will create pathways to high-quality, good-paying careers in Pennsylvania and a more sustainable and equitable future for all,” said Stephen Herzenberg, Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center.
Importantly, the American Climate Corps will prioritize communities that are traditionally left behind, including energy communities that powered our nation for generations like the Appalachian region of Western Pennsylvania.
The original Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) work relief program, created as part of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1930s New Deal, employed three million predominantly white men over the course of a decade while making lasting improvements to America’s public lands and parks. It played a significant role in building the wealth of working families and lasting public infrastructure.
KRC and ReImagine Appalachia recently released a new report that documented the low employment rates in coal-country Appalachia and the pressing need for a program such as a Climate Corps that creates good jobs accessible to people disconnected from the job market. (NOTE: For localized data on the low male prime-age employment rate in Pennsylvania’s Appalachian counties, see this interactive map.)
“This initiative is a down payment on the big climate corps that we need to solve two equally big challenges: our region’s need for employment creation and our need to absorb more carbon by planting trees, spreading climate-friendly agricultural practices, and other outdoor work,” said Herzenberg.
Read the White House Fact Sheet about the American Climate Corps here.