WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – As natural disasters intensify across the U.S., a new workforce program aims to tackle the climate crisis.
This week the Biden Administration launched the American Climate Corps to train tens of thousands of young people in clean energy and conservation jobs.
Growing up in Florida, John Paul Mejia saw the impacts of natural disasters, like hurricanes, up close.
“I saw cars crushed by trees like soda cans. I saw roofs stripped off homes. I saw people in pain,” Mejia said.
Now he’s a climate activist who serves as the spokesperson for the youth run Sunrise Movement. The group fought for the Biden Administration to create the American Climate Corps, and they’re celebrating the launch of the program.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan says the corps will train tens of thousands of young people in green jobs. Their work will focus on clean energy, conservation, and climate resilience.
“It’s unleashing 20,000 young people across the country. Arming them with the workforce development skills and needs that are required to combat the climate crisis,” Regan said.
He says the Biden Administration sees this as positive for both the environment and the economy.
“We are preparing our current and next generation to think about the economic opportunities and the opportunity to conserve and mitigate pollution against this planet,” Regan said.
Mejia sees the corps as a way to turn young people’s anxiety about the climate crisis into action.
“Have them employed in good paying union jobs that can actually save their home from disaster,” Mejia said.
He argues the government has a responsibility to do more.
“This should be the first taste of a much broader menu that our movement and young people are really hungry for,” Mejia said.
The American Climate Corps was originally part of legislation that failed. Now President Biden is using executive action to do it.
His administration says he’ll continue to use every tool he has.
“This president is very serious about the climate crisis,” Regan said.
Mejia says the President has the attention of his generation.
“But now he has to decide what he does with that attention,” Mejia said.
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