September 21, 2023

Wyden, Merkley, Colleagues Successfully Urge Biden Administration to Establish Civilian Climate Corps Program through Executive Action

Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today praised the Biden Administration for responding to their request to advance a federal Civilian Climate Corps program that would tackle some of the climate crisis’ worst impacts and prepare a whole generation of workers for good-paying union jobs in the clean economy.

This week’s administration announcement to launch the American Climate Corps that will put more than 20,000 young people to work in jobs that promote clean energy, conservation and climate resilience follows a Sept. 18 letter from Wyden, Merkley and colleagues to take that action.

“This is great news for rural Oregon where communities face heightened wildfire threats and the challenge of generating good jobs for young people,” Wyden said.  “In decades past, the end of summer this week would mark the end of wildfire season in our state. That’s unfortunately no longer the case with the climate crisis. And this investment in a 21st century workforce to combat some of the most devastating effects of the climate crisis will reduce those wildfire risks while working to restore our public lands in Oregon and nationwide.”

“A Civilian Climate Corps will create jobs while protecting our health, planet and future,” said Senator Merkley. “After pushing the administration to take this action, I am thrilled to see the announcement to launch this critical program.”

In a letter earlier this week to President Biden, the senators and colleagues wrote, “By leveraging the historic climate funding secured during your Administration, using existing authorities, and coordinating across AmeriCorps and other relevant federal agencies, your Administration can create a federal Civilian Climate Corps that unites its members in an effort to fight climate change, build community resilience, support environmental justice, and develop career pathways to good-paying union jobs focused on climate resilience and a clean economy.”

“As members of Congress who have led on various legislative proposals for Civilian Climate and Conservation Corps, we support your Administration in taking executive action and will continue to fight for additional resources from Congress,” the senators continued. “A central coordinating body, overseen by the White House, will be essential to create a successful and cohesive Civilian Climate Corps. 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 was led by U.S. Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass. Alongside Wyden and Merkley, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich, D-N.M, Bernie Sanders, I, Vt., Peter Welch, D-Vt., Dick Durbin, D-Ill. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Bob Casey, D- Pa.

Wyden has long led the effort to establish a Civilian Conservation Corps for the 21st century, introducing a bill in 2021. The investments he secured as part of the historic Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will support this week’s executive action.

The text of the letter is here.