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County launches Civilian Climate Corps to create green jobs

Thursday, April 22, 2021 by Seth Smalley

The Commissioners Court approved a resolution Tuesday to create the Travis County Civilian Climate Corps, sharing the goals of a city initiative created last May, the Austin Civilian Conservation Corps, to create green jobs and redress pandemic-era unemployment. Commissioners Anne Howard and Brigid Shea led discussion on the project.

“This is a resolution for us, as county leaders, to ask our county staff across departments to work together to develop strategies for us to build the Travis County Civilian Climate Corps,” Howard said. “President Biden said it best: This corps will mobilize the next generation of conservation and resilience workers and maximize the creation of accessible training opportunities and good jobs.”

Some of the goals of the initiative, according to Howard, will be to protect green spaces, increase reforestation efforts and carbon sequestration and protect biodiversity. Last May, Austin launched a similar effort to create green jobs in response to the pandemic.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, coming directly from a climate rally at the federal Capitol, and City Council Member Alison Alter, who championed the ACCC, joined the commissioners to support the resolution.

“We have long recognized in Travis County that we have a climate crisis and that there is a way to deal with that crisis and at the same time help people to get good jobs to do work that is worth doing,“ Doggett said. “I know that you will put to good use the $247 million that is coming to Travis County through the American Rescue Plan. You can use it not only to cover the pandemic expenses the county has incurred, but also for creative purposes to help us build back better.”

Alter, having been in conversation with Doggett regarding the city’s plan for green jobs, lauded the county’s efforts, saying she was looking forward to working with the climate corps “on joint ventures to our mutual benefit, and to work with Congressman Doggett to pull down federal dollars to help us move this project forward.”

Alter outlined the goals and purposes of the ACCC. “We can remove pollutants and invasive species from our waterways, we can mitigate our substantial risk of wildfire, we can beautify our spaces with art, trees and enhance our parks and trails, all while helping people get their feet back economically.”

Shea moved to approve the resolution and Howard seconded. The resolution passed with no resistance.

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