BURIEN — U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, touted new legislation Thursday in Burien to establish and fund a federal office in the White House that would promote climate resilience by creating and supporting green jobs in vulnerable communities nationwide.
The Climate Resilience Workforce Act, which is co-sponsored by dozens of House Democrats and supported by several local and national organizations and community groups, would invest in jobs in front-line communities suffering the worst impacts of climate change.
“We are already living through the devastating impacts of climate change and seeing our low-income communities and communities of color really bearing the biggest share of the burden,” Jayapal said during a news conference in Burien.
If passed, President Joe Biden would establish the Office of Climate Resilience within six months and appoint a director to serve a term of five years. The office would coordinate with front-line communities, scientists and labor organizations to spearhead efforts at the federal level to increase the country’s adaptability to increasing temperatures fueled by the burning of fossil fuels.
“My bill creates an equitable and skilled workforce with millions of good-paying union jobs centered in our most impacted communities necessary to prepare for and respond to the effects of climate crisis, and build a stronger, greener and more resilient society,” Jayapal said.
Jayapal said job development programs will include past and currently incarcerated people as well as undocumented immigrants, who she said will “play a critical role in supporting climate resilience.”
The price tag and political prospects of Jayapal’s plan remain unclear.
The congresswoman’s proposal was introduced to Congress in January, mere weeks after Biden’s Build Back Better Act — a $2.2 trillion package to reform the county’s climate change and social policy — was derailed by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Virginia, who withdrew his support at the last minute due to budget concerns, among other factors.
The Climate Resilience Workforce Act — or House Resolution 6492 — was referred to the House Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry in early February.
“We know that the climate crisis is disproportionally impacting low-income communities, communities of color, tribal and Indigenous communities — those who have contributed least to the problem,” said Evlyn Andrade, executive director of Earthcorps, a nonprofit based in Seattle, who spoke Thursday in Burien.
Like many parts of the country and the world, the residents of Burien have in recent years experienced an uptick in flooding and air pollution. In November, Burien became one of the state’s first to enact a Climate Action Plan to achieve carbon neutrality in the next three decades by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening its ability to respond to climate change.
Elsewhere in the state, warming temperatures fueled by greenhouse gas emissions have exacerbated sea level rise, wildfires, droughts and heat waves.
“There’s a dire need to center the communities most impacted by the crisis,” Andrade said. “And this bill does just that by supporting and creating millions of jobs that prioritize front-line community members.”