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The Corps Network Supports Introduction of Climate Resiliency Service Corps Act in U.S. House of Representatives
Introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), the bill would amend the National and Community Service Act to create a framework for engaging more young people in climate change-related service projects
WASHINGTON, DC – The Corps Network supports the Climate Resiliency Service Corps Act of 2019 (H.R. 5176), introduced yesterday, November 19, in the United States House of Representatives by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA). The bill would amend the National and Community Service Act of 1990 to establish a “Climate Resiliency Service Corps” to engage young adults and veterans in service projects focused on helping communities withstand and respond to the effects of climate change. Original cosponsors of the bill include Reps. John Sarbanes (D-MD), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Joe Neguse (D-CO), and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).
“Climate change is a national threat, affecting every region of the country. And it is one that demands immediate action. My legislation will mobilize our country’s National Service Corpsmembers to do just that,” said Rep. Chu. “Not only will passionate young people get the chance to develop in-demand skills and work experience, they will also get the chance to support conservation, disaster response, and community needs. My legislation will empower AmeriCorps to provide education on climate change, disasters, and resilience at community-based organizations, proactively complete projects to promote climate resilience, and to respond and rebuild from disasters in a way that promotes resilience to future impacts. This is particularly important in my state of California, where we are dealing with impacts like larger wildfires, but it will also be a benefit across the country as states deal with sea level rise, severe storms, heat waves, and drought.”
“National service programs address challenges ranging from food insecurity, to illiteracy, to the backlog of maintenance needs on our public lands. With this bill, we see a path to engaging more national service programs in addressing the very real challenge of climate change,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network. “We thank Rep. Chu for her leadership on this issue and look forward to working with her and our partners at the Corporation for National and Community Service to make climate resiliency projects a greater priority for Corps and other national service programs.”
The purpose of the Climate Resiliency Service Corps Act is to recognize, track, and expand upon the work Corps and other national service programs do to engage AmeriCorps members in climate change and disaster-related projects.
Across the country, many Service and Conservation Corps and other national service programs currently engage AmeriCorps members in disaster-related projects such as removing fire fuels, fighting wildfires, and stabilizing stream banks. The Climate Resiliency Service Corps Act would create AmeriCorps performance measures to track the outcomes of these projects in the context of improving our country’s climate resiliency. Examples of projects that would be considered “climate resiliency work” include: building resilient infrastructure; organizing community-based coalitions; providing disaster preparedness education; supporting disaster response centers; clearing debris; and rebuilding homes and buildings.
The goal of this bill is to engage more young adults and veterans in national service projects focused on helping communities mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters and other effects of climate change. Through their service experience, participants would learn about the effects of climate change and gain hands-on work experience and training related to disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
Several member organizations of The Corps Network participate in the AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team (A-DRT) program. National service programs involved in A-DRT are trained and ready to deploy to a disaster response operation to assist in activities such as managing volunteers, distributing emergency supplies, tarping roofs, and clearing debris. The vision of the Climate Resiliency Service Corps Act is to create more local opportunities for national service participants to help their own communities not only recover from disasters, but prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate-related issues.
In 2018, member organizations of The Corps Network removed over 11.7 million pounds of debris from disaster sites; cleared over 18,000 acres of hazardous fire fuels; and assisted nearly 4,000 homes affected by disasters.