The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Senator Markey and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Introduce Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice to Rebuild America

Puts 1.5 million Americans to work rebuilding America and strengthening nation’s climate resiliency infrastructure.


Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) today introduced the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act, which establishes a Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service within AmeriCorps. This legislation updates, modernizes, and expands the concept of the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps: ensuring that all Americans who want to participate may do so, regardless of race, age, or gender; broadening the range of eligible projects; providing 21st century health and education benefits; deepening partnerships with unions; and preserving Tribal sovereignty.

A diverse and equitable group of 1.5 million Americans over five years will complete federally-funded projects that help communities respond to climate change and transition to a clean economy. Civilian Climate Corps work will reduce carbon emissions, enable a transition to renewable energy, build healthier and more resilient communities, implement conservation projects with proven climate benefits, and help communities recover from climate disasters.
"To combat the interlocking crises of the moment--climate change, racial injustice, a global pandemic, and income inequality--our government has an opportunity to equitably reimagine an idea from the past and tailor it to meet the present and the future," Senator Markey said. "The Civilian Climate Corps will provide an opportunity for millions of Americans from every walk of life to earn a good wage while serving their communities and training to transform our economy. Rebuilding and strengthening our neighborhoods--especially those that have been devastated by climate change and racist housing and health care policies--and supporting our labor forcemust be our highest priority in the months and years to come."
"The CCC would put 1.5 million young people to work strengthening our communities and preserving our lands - doing everything from remediating blight and maintaining trails to creating entirely new green spaces," Representative Ocasio-Cortez. "The program also provides the support needed to turn this work into a career path - including childcare, eldercare and tax-free educational grants to be used for student loan debt payments or higher education. Americans across the political spectrum support the CCC - now we need to ensure the program is funded at a scale to reach every community."
"The existential threat of climate change is our greatest challenge, but also our greatest opportunity to protect our natural heritage and build a just future for the generations to come," said Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). "In the tradition of FDR's New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps - one of the most successful programs of the era that ensured jobs for millions of working people in maintaining our precious interior and conserving our wilderness - the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act will create more than a million good-paying jobs, help us protect our natural resources, and move us forward in the fight against climate change. I am proud to work with my colleagues to see the CCC of our time renewed for the challenges ahead."
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE and a one-pager can be found HERE.
Original co-sponsors of this legislation in the Senate include Senators Alex Padilla (D-Cali.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
Participants, or "corpsmembers," will receive education and training in coordination with local institutions, including labor unions, to facilitate career development in good union jobs. The corps will coordinate closely with existing local groups to help develop career pathways and union opportunities in new green sectors. Corpsmembers will receive compensation of at least $15 per hour, full health care coverage for participants and dependents, and support for critical services like transportation, housing and childcare. They will also be eligible for transformational tax-free educational grants of $25,000 per year of service (up to $50,000) to be used for student loan debt payments or higher education.
The Civilian Climate Corps will administer a large national service program and provide simplified and enhanced grants to scale up the existing network of over 130 local and state service and conservation corps. This unique combination of a federal program and partnerships with community organizations, all under the same umbrella, will leverage the network and local expertise of new and existing "Partner Corps" while at the same time rapidly developing a large number of service projects. 65 percent of voters across the United States support the creation of the Civilian Climate Corps.
Support for the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act:
"The Civilian Climate Corps Act is a model for bold, impactful governance to confront the climate crisis, and we applaud Senator Markey and Representative Ocasio-Cortez for their transformative vision to jumpstart a climate jobs revolution. A modern CCC would be uniquely positioned to supercharge our clean energy transition, prepare millions for good-paying careers, and strengthen American communities in every corner of the country. This proposal, which embraces Evergreen's recommendations for harnessing New Deal ambition for a 21st century CCC, ensures that the Corps will support working families, build community resilience, and lead a national workforce mobilization unseen since the New Deal era." --Jamal Raad, Executive Director, Evergreen Action
"The Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act forges a new, visionary era of civic collaboration in this country by empowering and employing Americans of all walks of life to rebuild and revitalize their communities. Right now, there are millions of us looking for good work, and so much good work that needs to be done. What if we ensured people had good jobs teaching, taking care of our elderly, and retrofitting hospitals, and expanding renewable energy instead of working a shitty job at Amazon making Jeff Bezos richer? Young people are ready and excited to get to work. That's why Sunrise is wholeheartedly supporting the CCC Act and will organize like hell to make sure it's passed as the first pillar of the Green New Deal." -- Varshini Prakash, Executive Director of Sunrise Movement.
"From climate chaos, to rising student debt and economic inequality--the intersecting crises we face demand ambitious, equitable and creative solutions. Senator Markey's Civilian Climate Corps Act of 2021 would bring back a New Deal staple--this time with equity at its core--and put millions of young people to work ensuring that every single American family has access to clean air and water for generations to come. It's also really popular. Data for Progress polling finds that 65% of voters--including a majority of Democrats, a majority of Independents, and a plurality of Republicans--support the CCC." -- Marcela Mulholland, Political Director at Data for Progress
"This visionary legislation will empower people across the country to get to work doing jobs that cut pollution and make our communities stronger. We urge Congress to pass it without delay." -- The Green New Deal Network
"Indivisible is thrilled to support the bold vision that Sen. Markey and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez have put forward with the introduction of the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act. At a time when many communities are facing mass unemployment, racial injustice, and climate catastrophe, we need progressive solutions to overcome these crises. The Civilian Climate Corps rises to this challenge by creating a jobs program grounded in addressing the climate crisis, providing good jobs, and ensuring the program and jobs prioritize communities hit hardest by environmental injustice." -- Ann Clancy, Sr. Climate Policy Manager at Indivisible
"We commend Senator Markey's efforts to ensure action on climate is rooted in justice and equity. This legislation demonstrates that that country can address the climate crisis in a way that provides family-supporting jobs, health and educational benefits for underserved communities. " Kirin Kennedy, Deputy Legislative Director at the Sierra Club
"The Civilian Climate Corps Act is the kind of bold legislation we need to meet the scale of the climate crisis. The Green New Deal hinges on a jobs and justice approach, and establishing a Civilian Climate Corps would be a big step forward in upholding a key pillar of the Green New Deal -- to provide green jobs that pay a livable wage, build pathways out of poverty, and transition to a green economy." -- Alexandra Rojas, Executive Director of Justice Democrats
"I am hopeful today to see the introduction of the Civilian Climate Corps bill. A program that creates good paying jobs by investing in people is but a small taste of what the Green New Deal can deliver. If we ensure that Black and Indigenous communities are prioritized for both the jobs and the environmental remediation, then we are moving towards true climate justice." -- Colette Pichon Battle, Esq., Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & PolicyMovement for Black Lives Leadership Team
"Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action is proud to endorse the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs & Justice Act because we know that it's going to take all of us working together, with strong public investment, to begin to address the climate crisis. The climate crisis impacts every facet of life, so folks from all walks of life must come together with funding and resources provided by the federal government we fund to meet the greatest challenge humanity collectively has ever faced." -- Eric Engle, Chairman of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action
"In the face of our worsening climate crisis, we know we will need millions of workers across the country working on projects to both mitigate and adapt to our changing climate. The Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act will provide the backbone of that workforce, training workers to take on the jobs that are made necessary by the scale of this crisis. We look forward to working with Senator Markey and Representative Ocasio-Cortez to pass this legislation and to move us forward to truly confronting the climate crisis." -- Mitch Jones, Policy Director at Food & Water Watch
"This brings the Green New Deal home. It shifts the conversation from two degrees celsius and 13-figure budget bills to projects people can actually see and be a part of. This is our path to national unity--people from all walks of life standing in line at their local employment office, ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work on projects that will make their communities more resilient. We won't beat back climate denial and apathy by hurling statistics at our neighbors, we must demonstrate what we are fighting for. When people work together on real projects, they spend less time on abstract debates." -- Kaniela Ing, Climate Justice Campaigns Director.
"A Civilian Conservation Corps for Jobs and Justice would not only launch effective programs to combat the climate emergency, but would also inspire and train corps members toward lifelong advocacy for justice." -- Allen Johnson, Coordinator, Christians For The Mountains
"People across Iowa: Black, white & Latino, young and old, from our rural and urban areas alike, are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work. For decades we have seen corporate consolidation send jobs and farms out of our towns and leave our communities crumbling. That's why we support the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act - it is the kind of investment into jobs, infrastructure, and our communities that meets the scale of the problems we face." -- Barb Kalbach, a 4th Generation Family Farmer, nurse, and member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
"The CCC rightly recognizes the importance of carbon-sequestering regenerative farming and ranching, urban farms and gardens, and local food systems, for climate mitigation and resilience. With food and farm workers drawing the lowest median wage of any sector, the CCC's $15/hour minimum wage and right to organize would be a significant step towards economic justice," -- Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of the Organic Consumers Association and US representative of Regeneration International.
"The original New Deal CCC had an enormous impact on West Virginia. Many of their projects are still in use today and the countless West Virginians who built them were glad to get the work to support their families. This new Civilian Climate Corps will address this century's massive challenge of keeping our planet livable for future generations while again providing much needed jobs for communities that otherwise are being left behind." -- Gary Zuckett, Executive Director of WV Citizen Action
"The climate crisis demands that our government use all the tools available to invest in and transform our society for the better. This transition to a better future offers massive opportunities to address the intersecting nature of our environmental, economic, and social crises. Senator Markey's "Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act" is the kind of once-in-a-generation, planet-saving investment we need to confront the climate crisis and improve peoples' lives, livelihoods, and futures. As we transition off fossil fuels, we need more programs like the Civilian Climate Corps that create good, high-quality jobs with access to unions and support workers and communities that currently sit at the frontlines of pollution and the climate crisis." -- Ashley Thomson, Greenpeace USA Climate Campaigner
"With increased severity and frequency of storms, the US South is being disproportionately impacted by climate change. Hometown Action is already seeing these impacts first hand in rural Alabama. We're endorsing the Civilian Climate Corps as an important component of economic recovery to get Alabama's workers the good jobs they deserve to replace those in extractive, exploitative industries of the past. And so much of our current building stock and infrastructure is outmoded and suffering from deferred maintenance but a new CCC can be mobilized to improve the health, resiliency, and sustainability of our communities while mitigating the impacts of climate change." -- Kathleen Kirkpatrick, Climate & Strategic Initiatives Director, Hometown Action
"We thank Senator Markey (D-MA) and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez for their leadership in advancing 'The Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act.' The provisions of this act assist rural communities with addressing climate change while restoring economic opportunity by creating jobs, assisting farmers and ranchers, and supporting local and regional food systems. This approach is a win-win for rural America." -- Joe Maxwell, President of Family Farm Action
Everyone in our country should have access to dignified work, food for their families, clean air to breathe, and clean water to drink. But in the midst of this pandemic, too many people are struggling to pay rent and put food on the table, all while the wealthy few get richer. The Civilian Climate Corps will take significant steps towards addressing the crisis we face, by creating millions of jobs with good wages and making strong investments in under-resourced communities. Connecticut needs a Civilian Climate Corps!" -- Ann Pratt, Connecticut Citizens Action Group.
"AMC applauds the introduction of the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act and Senator Markey's leadership to scale up the nation's service corps network. This kind of investment would develop the skills and workforce needed for projects that will create healthier and more resilient communities, improve equitable access to the outdoors, and take on some of today's most challenging needs to address climate change and make the clean energy transition." -- John Judge, President and CEO of the Appalachian Mountain Club
"The Civilian Climate Corps updates one of the New Deal's most successful programs to jump start a climate transition and dramatically improve economic opportunity and racial equity. The CCC is exactly the kind of bold and innovate program we need to both address the climate crisis and create badly needed good union jobs for everyone in the U.S. that wants to be part of the emerging green economy." -- Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin.
"The CCC is a huge win for the goals of the youth climate justice movement. By centering environmental justice, workers' rights, education, and renewable infrastructure, this bill will help us mitigate the climate crisis and build a safer, greener, more equitable future." -- Future Coalition
"Corazon Latino supports the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act, recognizing it as a key equity-focused policy to protect Madre Tierra and to ensure healthier communities, a green economy, and community-focused career development while our nation transitions to clean energy. We applaud Sen. Ed Markey for driving this opportunity and bringing environment, social justice and labor rights into the heart of this Act." -- Felipe Benitez, founder and executive director of Corazon Latino
"Latinos and all frontline leaders are passionate and engaged in creating environmental liberation for our communities. The Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) creates opportunities for all to build healthier and resilient communities through democratic, youth-led decisionmaking and powerbuilding. By prioritizing frontline communities and historically underserved populations, leveraging local knowledge creating pathways into good union jobs, this legislation facilitates environmental justice and builds access to new green sectors. For Latinos and other communities of color, this is particularly crucial, given their under-representation in a number of clean energy job sectors." -- GreenLatinos
"The climate crisis requires big and bold government interventions and the Civilian Climate Corps is a clear example of how we can put people to work while addressing the issues that climate change will continue to create. Communities are already seeing drastic impacts from 100 year floods, creeping sea level rise, rampant wildfires, droughts and freak snow storms like what we saw in Texas this past February. The CCC plan gives us a blueprint to solving the interconnected crises of climate change, racial injustice and income inequality by giving millions of people the opportunity to earn a good wage while helping be part of solutions our communities desperately need." -- Dianne Enriquez, Campaign Manager for Climate and Housing at Center for Popular Democracy
This legislation is endorsed by: Evergreen Action, Sunrise Movement, Data for Progress, Green Latinos, Green New Deal Network, Indivisible, Sierra Club, Service Employees International Union, Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, Movement for Black Lives, League of Conservation Voters,, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Communications Workers of America, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Common Defense, People's Action, NDN Collective, United for Respect, Center for Biological Diversity, United We Dream Network, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance Hometown Action, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action, Food & Water Watch, Climate Justice Alliance, Christians For The Mountains, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, WV Citizen Action, Greenpeace USA, Labor Network for Sustainability, Justice Democrats, Appalachian Mountain Club, Working Families Party, Family Farm Action, Organic Consumers Association, Connecticut Citizens Action Group, Appalachian Mountain Club, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Future Coalition, Corazon Latino, Rights & Democracy, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Center for Popular Democracy.