Last week, the Biden administration unveiled a new initiative, the American Climate Corps (ACC), to initially prepare 20,000 young people for careers in clean energy and fighting climate change. 

The White House believes the initiative “will put a new generation of Americans to work conserving our lands and waters, bolstering community resilience, advancing environmental justice, deploying clean energy, implementing energy efficient technologies, and tackling climate change.” 

The program is estimated to cost between $10 billion to $30 billion dollars. 

The American Climate Corps Explained

The ACC is aligned with President Biden’s January 27th, 2021, Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, which proposed the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps. 

A corresponding fact sheet adds this program will promote equity and environmental justice through the Justice40 Initiative to “fight the climate crisis.” 

As I noted at IWF recently, this whole-of-government policy aims to do the following: 

The Justice40 Initiative is the first “whole-of-government effort” tasked with collaborating with states and localities to push environmental justice and economic growth “by delivering at least 40 percent of the benefits from Federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities.” This initiative was also born out of the aforementioned Day One Executive Order on Racial Equity. 

ACC Borrows Heavily from FDR’s New Deal Program Namesake

It’s unsurprising to see the Biden administration draw inspiration for the proposed ACC from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal programs called Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)—a nod to President Biden’s favorite president. 

The CCC existed from 1932 to 1941 to prepare single young men, ages 18 to 25, with careers in public lands, forestry, and park preservation. Three million individuals graduated from the program. 

At the CCC’s height, it enjoyed an 82% approval. However, the initiative was marred with corruption, bad management, and controversy. 

The National Park Service concluded, “Though its institutional momentum carried it on for nine years, the difficulties of the operation finally became too much. The Corps was never able to plan ahead financially with any degree of certitude, living virtually from hand to mouth throughout its existence. Clashes and wrangling among top officials, symptomatic of the slow breakdown at the center, were increasingly frequent in the CCC’s final years.” 

The CCC, the NPS added, failed to be a successful employment pipeline for its participants because it never outgrew “its temporary status” beyond a relief program and indicator of “useful work.” Moreover, the lands agency said “much good work was undoubtedly performed” but the program was disbanded for lacking “cohesive planning” and confusion over the deliverables of a CCC education. The ACC is doomed to fail on several grounds. 

First, deploying a whole-of-government approach to promote environmental stewardship is unnecessary and detrimental to progress. Secondly, the clean energy industry is heavily subsidized by the government and so-called green skills show little value thus far—thus, not adequately preparing young Americans for the real world. Third, unlike its New Deal predecessor—born out of the Emergency Conservation Work Act of 1933—this initiative is born out of an executive order—putting its legality into question. 

Existing conservation practices that empower individuals, localities, states, and private actors are already succeeding. The federal government would add unnecessary bureaucracy and waste taxpayer dollars through a program to merely virtue signal on climate.  

To learn more about true conservation, go HERE