A recap of our CCC Roundtable with Senator Casey

Americans are facing a pandemic, climate change, job loss and impassioned debate about racial injustice, a convergence of crises highlighting the health and economic inequalities impacting the nation for decades.

To combat these existential issues, ReImagine Appalachia is calling for sweeping federal jobs reform that harkens back to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The proposal – which includes reviving that era’s Civilian Conservation Corps – will provide rewarding careers for the unemployed through the pandemic and beyond.

Backing our #NewDeal4Us is Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), who introduced legislation this fall for a program designed after the CCC. Casey envisions a modernized effort providing better wages, skills training and equity in hiring, curtailing high unemployment not only in his native Pennsylvania, but throughout the Ohio River Valley.

“It’s a great idea whose time has come, and frankly, whose urgency is upon us,” Casey said during an Oct. 30 ReImagine Appalachia CCC Roundtable. The event featured speakers from regional environmental, policy and criminal justice organizations, all focused on bringing solutions to the historic challenges we’re confronting in Appalachia and nationwide.

As a jobs study released by Reimagine Appalachia and the Political Economy Research Institute revealed, investing in the CCC could create nearly 100,000 jobs in Ohio and Pennsylvania alone.

Modern clean energy jobs would entail:

*Restoration of streams and wetlands

*Re-foresting mined lands

*Establishing urban farms

*Re-grading mountaintop-removed mines

*Planting windbreaks to protect and diversify crops

*Building water-storage basins

*Re-seeding grazing lands with native grasses

Repairing damage from a century of fossil fuel extraction would be displaced coal workers as well as young people, residents of color and returning citizens. By building skills and career paths to permanent jobs, these populations would be motivated to put down roots in the region.

“There is a legacy of systemic racism which we’re only addressing now – bad air and water impacting communities of color and putting children at risk,” Casey said. “This proposal will ensure frontline communities are prioritized.”

Ultimately, revitalizing the CCC is key to a sustainable Appalachia now and during our post-pandemic future. 

Missed the roundtable? No worries! You can watch it here.

Doug Guth

Author Doug Guth

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