There has been great tension surrounding climate-related legislation, as many policies have been unappealing to climate activists. Thousands gathered in New York, including U.S. representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to protest against oil drilling and the usage of fossil fuels. Biden’s controversial Willow project, where oil wells will be drilled in Alaska to gather fossil fuels, gathered negative media because of its contradictory nature to Biden’s campaign goals of cutting down America’s carbon footprint.
However, environmental-friendly opportunities are on the horizon, as Biden has recently revealed the ‘climate corps’. The American Climate Corps (ACC) is a job opportunity for thousands to get involved in helping the environment. The American Climate Corps provides employment and climate-relevant training to thousands so that those individuals can be prepared for a reliable job after the program ends. According to Glassdoor, Climate Corps employees will be paid roughly $50,000, which is slightly more than $20/hour. This would provide great financial independence to those who are living off of none to minimum wage while also training them in the environmental sector.
The ACC is modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corp, which was made during the New-Deal era in the 1930s. It gave unemployed and unmarried men, ages 17-28 jobs by doing conservation work in areas such as protected habitats and parks. Unlike the 1930s, where the economy was suffering and President Roosevelt was working to reinflate the economy, today’s economic status is far better. Unemployment is at a relatively low rate of roughly 3.5%, although the environment is in dire need of help.
The ACC was initiated by a youth-led organization, called the Sunrise Movement. It is headed by Varishini Prakash, a young woman inspired to use her voice for the environment. She is also a part of many interviews regarding the ACC in White House press reports. The Sunrise Movement works to elect proponents of climate favoring policy, especially during election seasons such as the midterms. They are affiliated with Representative Cortez and first gained media coverage in a report with Rep. Cortez and Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
However, there have been concerns if this policy will have financial downsides. Members of the Republican party are concerned about the ACC’s impact on the economy, as providing steady incomes could make a larger dent in the existing loss from the pandemic, when many jobs were lost. There is also a low approval rating in Maryland, which has many Republican voters. Furthermore, some states already have their own climate corps, such as Arizona, Utah, Minnesota, North Carolina and Maryland.
While there may be downsides and benefits to any legislation, the ACC shows promise in assisting the economy from a long-term perspective by preparing people for careers. On their website, they mention skill based training to learn to deploy clean energy, rebuild and protect wetlands and forests, and implement solutions to further environmental justice, which is exciting news for climate activists and employment seekers alike.