Sen. Cory Booker is proposing an environmental version of a New Deal-era work relief program that would effectively recruit young people to plant billions of trees within the next decade.
The New Jersey Democrat unveiled a bill Thursday with Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico that would establish a new civilian corps based on environmental stewardship. Booker’s proposed Agriculture Department program would train and deploy young millennials from low-income areas during two-year stints in the restoration of U.S. forests.
They would be directed to plant 4 billion trees by 2030 and 15 billion trees by 2050 across federal, state, tribal and private lands — the plan is one way Booker hopes to tackle climate change. Ultimately the plan would require 50,000 young people to be enrolled in the corps by 2027. Booker is one of more than 20 Democrats running for president.
“In FDR’s New Deal, the federal government planted billions of trees, provided conservation incentives to family farmers and ranchers, created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Civilian Conservation Corps, and electrified rural America,” he said in a statement. The U.S.’s participation in World War II brought an end to the corps.
Booker added: “In order to address the urgent and existential threat posed by climate change, all of these approaches should be part of our broader strategy.” Other presidential candidates are floating similar climate policies.
Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, for instance, is floating a potential climate corps that would deploy young volunteers to install rooftop solar panels. Activists argue the media and Democrats have been giving global warming and other environmental issues short shift in the early part of the presidential campaign season.
Hectoring from the environmentalist-left might have prompted reporters to elevate climate issues in the second presidential debate in July. CNN moderator Dana Bash, for instance, asked former Vice President Joe Biden if there would there be any place for fossil fuels including coal and fracking in a Biden administration.
Biden, who announced his presidential candidacy in April, replied with a resounding “no.” He added: “We would work it out. We would make sure it’s eliminated and no more subsidies for either one of those — any fossil fuel.” Other candidates made similar promises.
“We cannot work this out,” Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told Bash as Biden looked on. “The time is up. Our house is on fire. We have to stop using coal in 10 years and we need the president to do it or it won’t get done.” Inslee is making climate change the most crucial element in his presidential run.
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