Democrats Want a ‘Climate Corps.’ They Just Can’t Agree How to Create It.


That has some Republicans worried.

“What exactly does that mean?” Representative Tom McClintock of California asked at a recent hearing. “Does it mean a taxpayer funded community organizing effort? Young climate pioneers in every neighborhood to report on who is watering their lawn, whose fireplace is smoking, who is spreading forbidden climate disinformation?”

Others noted that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s conservation corps was created when the United States was suffering from 20 percent unemployment. That’s not the current situation, where the national unemployment rate was 5.2 percent in August and many companies are having difficulty finding workers.

Representative Bruce Westerman of Arkansas, the top Republican on the House Committee on Natural Resources called the Civilian Climate Corps a “make-work program” that will “compete against American businesses at a time when ‘help wanted’ signs remain in the windows.”

Ultimately, however, Republicans are not in a position to influence the package since the party has already signaled members will unanimously oppose the broader $3.5 trillion budget bill. The fate of the program is up to Democrats and whether they can reach agreement, supporters of the climate corps said.


Collin O’Mara, the president of the National Wildlife Foundation, said he is optimistic that if Democrats manage to pass the spending bill, it will include a new Civilian Climate Corps.

“Any time you’re negotiating over how to do it rather than whether to do it, you’re in a pretty good position. And we’re negotiating over how,” he said.

Representative Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, who has introduced legislation to create a new climate and conservation corps every year since 2008, said she wants to recreate the experience that the government gave to her father. As a young man in the 1930s Joseph Kaptur, the youngest of 16 children, worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps helping to drain the Erie Canal and build roads.

“It was limited money, but he could put food on the table,” Ms. Kaptur said. Roosevelt-era corps members, she added, “were proud of what they did, and they were proud of building America. This generation needs this experience.”

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