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Sunrise Movement groups from Lewisburg and State College rallied outside of Keller's office to demand that he sign the Good Jobs for All Congressional Pledge. (Photo: Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Could Biden's Civilian Climate Corps Save America?

This plan ensures that we can meet our urgent demands during the climate crisis, while empowering our workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution.

Jim Sandoe

The President's bold Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) announcement could be just what we need to get America back on its feet. This program would bring jobs to people who have been underserved by the past economy. Teens, especially urban teens, adults over 50 and disabled Americans would all be trained for productive employment. Of course, green energy will be a large part of the program. That means thousands of jobs upgrading our electrical grid to move energy to where it is needed. Utilities have been neglecting grid upgrades for decades and we are now paying for it.

This plan ensures that we can meet our urgent demands during the climate crisis, while empowering our workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution that will create a pollution free, net-zero power sector by 2035 and puts us on a path to a net-zero economy by 2050. The President's actions challenge the innovation of the American worker and creates an army of new tech entrepreneurs to tackle the problems of climate change and deliver social justice for the many communities who have suffered environmental harm.

It's about time we started using the latest technology breakthroughs to improve our country and get people back to work.

This program, which is modeled after President Roosevelt's successful Civilian Conservation Corps has even greater ambitions. The CCC should create at least 1.5 million jobs, open to all Americans, with none of the restrictions on age and race that the original had. The jobs would include installing solar panels, wind turbines, maintaining public transit systems, building electric cars, planting trees, restoring national parks, upgrading our roads and bridges and retrofitting homes and buildings for greater energy efficiency and more. The National Park Service alone has a backlog of over $12 billion in repairs needed. In order to allow those workers to enter the job market, it would expand Medicare health coverage, partner with labor unions to provide training and apprenticeships and have child-care benefits.  All these are necessary in order to expand our workforce.

It would use the AmeriCorps training model but expand it to more industries. This critical job training will help workers get decent, permanent jobs in all industries, not just green ones. To make sure that this model is successful, all parties would have a seat at the table. A new Climate Workforce Council would get input from state and local governments, labor unions, community organizations, the public, and of course, politicians.

Rebuilding roads and bridges can be damaging to the environment, so new technologies must be mandated for these projects. Concrete manufacturing is one of the most polluting industries on Earth, about 8% of all emissions are from concrete manufacturing. However, we are not limited to doing things the "old way," there are many new technologies that can be used in Making Concrete, one of them is with Carbon Dioxide.

Many roads are made from asphalt, what can we do to improve this process? Grinding up used tires creates a product known as crumb rubber. This can be added to the asphalt (generally about 18-20% of the final product is rubber) and creates a better pavement. Benefits include resistance to rutting, cracking and aging. Tires can also be added to used pavement to recycle it into new product. Right now, Arizona, California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas and Canada are evaluating rubber roads. Although rubber roads are slightly more costly to install (about $10/ton), they do have other benefits. Road noise is usually reduced by 50%, repavement of roads can use a thinner layer than they do now, and saving costs and rubber roads can be recycled as they are less likely to have potholes. Europe has been using this process for years. Once again, our infrastructure is improved, dangerous waste products are removed from our environment, and thousands of jobs are created.

With an increase in construction projects, thousands of new workers will be needed, creating a huge boost to the economy.

And finally, we know that we are being drowned in waste plastic, so can we do something about that? Yes, plastic can also be used in roads. In fact, India has been doing this for more than a decade. It costs less and is less prone to potholes. Plastic roads are more durable conventional asphalt roads, extending the life of the roadway.

All of these technological advances are perfect for the President's Build Back Better program. It's about time we started using the latest technology breakthroughs to improve our country and get people back to work. These technologies are ready right now and being used in other countries and are proven better construction procedures, so why aren't we using them here? Please contact your Congressman and Senators and tell them we need the CCC, it's a great path forward and 77% of voters approve of the Corps.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Jim Sandoe

Jim Sandoe

Jim Sandoe is a former U.S. Army Vietnam veteran, a Common Defense member, and a chapter leader for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and has led 100+ presentations for the Climate Reality Project.

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