SILVER CITY, N.M. – At a trailhead to the Continental Divide Trail in Silver City, N.M. today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced legislation to launch a new Civilian Climate Corps. The announcement comes just days after the 88th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps, a national service program that employed millions of Americans during the Great Depression to complete conservation projects across the country.
Last week, the White House announced support for $10 billion to mobilize the next generation of conservation and resilience workers and establish a Civilian Climate Corps as part of the American Jobs Plan.
"Establishing a Civilian Climate Corps will provide national service opportunities to a new generation and help power our economic recovery. We can put thousands of Americans to work right away rebuilding crumbling infrastructure on our public lands—some of which dates back all the way to the original Civilian Conservation Corps. This will keep growing our outdoor economy, which was fueling some of the fastest job growth in rural communities before the onset of the pandemic. The new CCC members can also make vital contributions to restore the health of American landscapes and improve our resilience to climate impacts like more extreme wildfires and floods," said Heinrich, the first AmeriCorps alum to serve in the U.S. Senate. “In times of crisis, Americans have always embraced service to their nation. We will be a stronger country if we both ask Americans to serve and give them meaningful opportunities to do so. There is so much work we need to do to tackle the climate crisis and to rebuild our country. Let's make national service a central part of every plan for change.”
The Civilian Climate Corps Act builds on President Biden’s call for a climate-focused national service program by authorizing the administration to utilize existing national service programs and coordinate with federal and non-federal entities to create a Civilian Climate Corps.
The Civilian Climate Corps would facilitate projects to help disadvantaged communities build resilience to climate change, including efforts to conserve and restore public lands, assist natural disaster-prone communities, utilize natural climate solutions, replace vulnerable infrastructure, protect biodiversity, and enhance ecological resilience. The bill would also reserve funding for Tribal communities, encourage diversity within the Corps, and require a report describing the proposed number of Corps members and funding needs.
The Civilian Climate Corps Act was introduced by U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), and is endorsed by the Corps Network, Voices for National Service, National Wildlife Federation, and the National Audubon Society.