REPORT: Markey, Ocasio-Cortez ask Biden to issue aggressive executive order on climate change

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

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 nonetheless was the largest climate bill in U.S. history.

Biden was a vocal backer of the CCC 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 program.

A press release on Markey’s website Monday, reveals details of a letter sent to Joe Biden on Monday which pushes for him to take executive action on climate change.

“With deadly heat, dangerous floods, rising seas, and devastating wildfires — including those that ravaged Maui last month — the climate crisis demands a whole-of-government response at an unprecedented scale,” the letter declares.  [emphasis added.]

The press release reads:

As champions of various legislative proposals for Civilian Climate and Conservation Corps, the legislators are joining together on the 30th anniversary of the legislation that established AmeriCorps to urge the Biden administration to take urgent action to advance a federal Civilian Climate Corps program that will mobilize Corps members in response to the climate crisis and prepare a whole generation of workers for good-paying union jobs in the clean economy.

“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,” the lawmakers wrote. “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 lawmakers 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.”

In the letter, the lawmakers highlight four key principles for a Civilian Climate Corps initiative created through Executive Action: 

  • The Civilian Climate Corps must take a whole-of-government approach to the climate crisis.
  • The Civilian Climate Corps must prioritize equity in the communities it serves and the Corps members it trains.
  • The Civilian Climate Corps must provide a pathway to long-term employment through good-paying union jobs.
  • The Civilian Climate Corps must center the needs and leadership of local communities in order to achieve its national mission.

As part of their effort to build on the historic success of the Inflation Reduction Act to further advance climate and environmental justice goals outlined in their Green New Deal Resolution, today Senator Markey and Representative Ocasio-Cortez also reintroduced their Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act of 2023, which would establish a robust and equitable Civilian Climate Corps administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service within AmeriCorps. Senators Sanders, Merkley, Warren, Gillibrand, Blumenthal, Welch, and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Representatives Espaillat, Garcia, Khanna, McGovern, Nadler, Norton, Payne, Schakowsky, F. Wilson, Casar, Cleaver, Crockett, Mullin, Ramirez, Tokuda, Connolly, Antonio Cardenas (CA-29), Grace Napolitano (CA-31), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), and Melanie Stansbury (NM-01) are cosponsors.

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. In total, it would support 1.5 million Americans over 5 years to complete federally-funded projects that help communities respond to climate change and transition to a clean economy.

“We are going to build a just and livable future. But to do so we need a Climate Corps that puts Americans to work fighting the climate crisis while getting trained for good-paying clean jobs, all across the country. @POTUS, let’s get this done,” Markey demanded.

The letter demanding Biden to take executive action on climate change is signed by Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), along with Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Representatives Judy Chu (CA-28) and Joe Neguse (CO-02), today led 44 of their colleagues—Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Representatives Becca Balint (VT-01), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Cori Bush (MO-01), André Carson (IN-07), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Gerald Connolly (VA-11), Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10), Lloyd Doggett (TX-37), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Maxwell Frost (FL-10), Robert Garcia (CA-42), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Summer Lee (PA-12), James McGovern (MA-02), Kevin Mullin (CA-15), Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-01), Donald Payne (NJ-10), Katie Porter (CA-47), Delia Ramirez (IL-03), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Janice Schakowsky (IL-09), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Jill Tokuda (HI-02), David Trone (MD-06), Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), Nikema Williams (GA-05), and Frederica Wilson (FL-24).

In another announcement, Markey accused big banks of “financing fossil fuels and fanning the flames of climate chaos.”

“Climate risk is financial risk. That’s why @RepPressley and I are leading our colleagues in urging @federalreserve to hold banks accountable,” he wrote.

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