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New bill would block Biden’s equity ‘climate corps’ army

Biden announced in September he was formally creating the Climate Corps, promising to hire a “diverse generation” of 20,000 workers to improve the environment.

Published: November 3, 2023 8:35am

(The Center Square) -

U.S. Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., will introduce legislation Friday to block President Joe Biden’s “Climate Corps.”

The bill, given in advance to The Center Square, would “prohibit federal funds from being made available for the Justice40 Initiative or for the American Climate Corps.”

Biden announced in September he was formally creating the Climate Corps, promising to hire a “diverse generation” of 20,000 workers to improve the environment.

The flood of new workers, though, will not solely focus on the environment, but will also be paid to tackle racial equity. The White House said the new hires will “focus on equity and environmental justice – prioritizing communities traditionally left behind, including energy communities that powered our nation for generations..."

The Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as working to make sure that certain racial groups are not disproportionately impacted by harm done to the environment.

Good’s office told The Center Square that the “No American Climate Corps Act” would block federal funds from going toward Biden’s climate corps, which in 2021 was initially set to receive $30 billion in the “Build Back Better Act” before that provision was removed.

Now, Biden plans to leverage several federal agencies to back the army of young equity climate officers.

The White House said in its announcement it would “ensure Federal agencies are working together to implement the American Climate Corps, the Department of Labor, Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Energy, and AmeriCorps will sign a memorandum of understanding to formalize this new initiative, and AmeriCorps will stand up a new ‘American Climate Corps hub,’ which will support the American Climate Corps.”

Biden’s announcement also suggests that he plans to pull from the roughly $350 billion in climate spending included in the Inflation Reduction Act.

“With funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, the Interior Department will expand the capacity of the Corps and similar projects serving underserved communities by 30 percent, reaching over 5,000 young people,” the White House said in a statement. “The expanded programs will work with federally recognized Tribes and Tribal organizations as well as programs serving the U.S. territories, the Native Hawaiian Community, and urban communities across the United States.”

The initiative mirrors President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, which gave millions of Americans jobs, but critics argue Biden's announcement created a new federal agency out of thin air without Congressional authorization.

House Oversight Republicans launched an inquiry into the Climate Corps last month, raising questions about the cost of the program, “including the extent to which the ACC will redirect funds from other AmeriCorps programs or any other existing federal agencies and programs.”

Oversight Chair Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., sent a letter to Michael D. Smith, Chief Executive Officer of AmeriCorps, raising these concerns.

“Unlike the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was implemented by President Roosevelt in response to an authorization in a law passed by Congress, the announcement of the program does not reference any legal authority giving rise to the program,” the letter said. “According to the announcement, as the nexus of the ACC for federal agencies, AmeriCorps seems poised to facilitate the flow of an unspecified sum of federal taxpayer dollars to unknown individuals and entities. It is unclear where these funds are coming from and for what purposes they will be used.”

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