Biden Seeks $8 Billion to Expand American Climate Corps

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(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden is asking Congress for $8 billion to hire hundreds of thousands of workers for a New Deal-inspired jobs program to fight climate change around the US.

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The request — for $8 billion total provided over a decade, to be put toward hiring 50,000 new workers annually by 2031 — is included in the president’s budget proposal released Monday. It follows his vow in last week’s State of the Union address to triple the number of workers in the recently launched American Climate Corps program.

The program was backed by Green New Deal authors Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, both Democrats, who initially envisioned employing 1.5 million young people to learn jobs like restoring communities damaged by climate change, installing solar panels and making homes more energy efficient.

Some $10 billion sought for the program was dropped from Biden’s signature climate law, the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. But the White House announced a slimmed-down version of the initiative last September and said it would recruit some 20,000 people for jobs like helping communities defend against storm surge and flooding, restoring coastal wetlands and building renewable energy projects.

Read More: Biden Creates American Climate Corps for Youth Job Training

Since then, according to the White House, some 50,000 Americans have expressed interest in joining the jobs training program, which offers young people opportunities such as earning $15 an hour to learn skills in wildfire prevention and forest management.

Biden’s American Climate Corps was inspired by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, the 1933 New Deal program that put millions to work during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.

The new climate corps has come under scrutiny from Congressional Republicans who are unlikely to approve Biden’s request as is. The conservative think tank Americans for Tax Reform in a press release bashed the program as a publicly funded corps of “climate busybodies.” “They are building an extralegal political machine with your tax dollars,” said Grover Norquist, the group’s president.

(Updated with statement from Americans for Tax Reform)

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