Biden commits $7B to low-income solar, expands climate corps on Earth Day

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President Biden is marking Earth Day by announcing $7 billion in grants for low-income households to go solar, and expanding his administration’s US Climate Corps.

The $7 billion in grants are part of the EPA’s Solar For All program, which was funded as part of the $27b Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund in the Inflation Reduction Act. The Act, as a whole, commits hundreds of billions of dollars to climate and energy related programs.

The Solar For All program has selected 60 state and tribal applicants as recipients of the fund money. Details of each grant can be found on the EPA’s website.

In total, the funding “will enable over 900,000 households in low-income and disadvantaged communities to benefit from distributed solar energy,” according to the EPA. Focus on low-income communities is in line with the administration’s “Justice40 Initiative” which targets 40% of federal climate funding on disadvantages communities.

These projects are estimated to save $350 million in electricity costs per year and avoid 30 million tons of carbon pollution over the next 25 years. The Biden administration says that the solar projects funded by the program will create 200,000 jobs. These benefits will be disproportionately felt in the communities that need them the most.

Biden also announced an expansion of his American Climate Corps, which was originally announced last September. The goal of the Corps is to employ over 20,000 young people in climate-related jobs across the country.

Today’s announcement includes the opening of a website, ClimateCorps.gov, where job-seekers can apply to some 2,000 current open positions across 36 states and Puerto Rico. Many of these jobs will include pathways to future federal employment. The site is still in beta, and will expand as the Corps builds up.

Biden announced the funding at Prince WIlliam Forest Park in Virginia, a park which was originally developed by FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps. This was part of FDR’s New Deal, which focused investment on US infrastructure spending to help the country recover from the Great Depression. This heavy infrastructure spending helped catapult the US into global leadership for the second half of the 20th century.

Biden’s environmental policies have been partially modeled on the New Deal, with significant domestic spending on infrastructure and manufacturing to help modernize the country’s industrial base in the face of climate change and the disruption it will bring for the environment and for industry. So announcing this program at a New Deal site is apt.

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