The current budget negotiations offer a huge opportunity to do just that.
After receiving a letter from 80 Democrats that supported a CCC featuring pathways to good union jobs and workforce diversity, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) promised to “fight to get the biggest, boldest CCC possible” in the budget reconciliation package. Finance Committee Chair Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)—sounding appropriately Gen Z—then ensured “a broad berth in the budget resolution for the CCC. Period. Full stop.”
Climate justice activists are pushing for a Corps that not only meets the staggering scale of our problems but that is also more deeply rooted in justice and equity than the original version.
The Green New Deal Network’s Transform, Heal, and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy (THRIVE) Agenda would invest $1 trillion per year in new, low carbon, long-term living wage jobs for the next decade. They project the creation of 15 million “Green New Careers,” over half of which would originate in previously excluded and presently underserved communities.
As the Sunrise Movement notes, “those on the front lines of fighting systemic racism, historic pollution, the climate crisis, and economic insecurity must be at the forefront of building a more just economy.” With low barriers to entry and inclusive recruitment metrics, the jobs under this proposal would advance equity across race, class, and geography.
This would address serious flaws in the original CCC, which barred women’s enlistment and segregated Black and Indigenous workers in separate camps from their white counterparts. The New Deal program also sponsored what Sunrise terms “nonconsensual development on stolen Native American land,” institutionalizing western, technocratic notions of land use and management.
This is certainly true of Orcas Island’s Moran State Park, settled atop Lummi and coastal Salish indigenous land “owned” and later “donated” to the public by wealthy local leader Robert Moran.
A Civilian Climate Corps could tackle racial, gender, and class-based inequities head-on.