Markey, Ocasio-Cortez ask Biden to create Civilian Climate Corps by executive order

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), two of Congress’ most vocal proponents for aggressive climate action, on Monday called for President Biden to establish a Civilian Climate Corps.

The CCC had been a key element in early versions of the Build Back Better Act, the sweeping environmental and infrastructure bill. It was not ultimately included in the slimmed down Inflation Reduction Act, which was nonetheless the largest climate bill in U.S. history.

Biden was a vocal backer of the Climate Corps early in his presidency, comparing it to the Civilian Conservation Corps introduced during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The original legislation called for $10 billion to launch the new program.

In the letter, timed to the 30th anniversary of the bill that created Americorps, Ocasio-Cortez and Markey cited polling indicating the idea has more than 60 percent support. The two have also reintroduced a bill to establish a corps legislatively, although the measure will almost certainly not be given a vote in the Republican-majority House.

“A central coordinating body, overseen by the White House, will be essential to create a successful and cohesive Civilian Climate Corps,” they wrote. “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.”

The letter is also signed by members of Democratic congressional leadership like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Also on Monday, a coalition of more than 50 progressive and environmentalist groups sent a separate letter calling on Biden to establish the CCC, citing its popularity among younger voters in particular.

“While previous Executive Orders and legislation under your administration demonstrate tremendous progress toward meeting our Paris climate goals and your campaign promises, this summer has made clear that we must be as ambitious as possible in tackling the great crisis of our time,” they wrote.

“We encourage your administration to create a Civilian Climate Corps through existing authorities, with existing climate funding, that can coordinate across relevant federal agencies.”