The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is launching the Climate Change Professionals Program as part of the Biden administration’s growing interest in climate change initiatives. 

On his first day in office, the President made it clear his administration’s focus would be on tackling climate change after he issued an executive order directing the Department of the Interior to pause new oil and gas drilling permits, as well as leases on federal onshore and offshore property, for 60 days.

“This program will develop the next generation of climate experts, improve climate literacy throughout the department, and help us execute our Climate Action Plan to remain mission-resilient while reducing our own impacts on the environment,” said DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

The program, run by the Office of the Chief Readiness Support Officer, is open to recent graduates and current federal employees with degrees in relevant fields to manage environmental protection and compliance activities. The office is accepting applications for an environmental protection specialist. 

The program’s participants would work under the guidance of the Climate Change Action Group (CCAG). Last April, Mayorkas announced the formation of CCAG as a coordinating body to guide DHS’s approach to climate change and climate-related national security threats

Once the program is completed, participants would be accredited as Climate Change Professionals from the Association of Climate Change Officers. Participants would also be eligible for full-time employment at DHS. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expanding its efforts to bring renewable energy to historically underserved communities in rural areas through the Rural Energy Pilot Program. 

The pilot program has $10 million in grants reserved to support communities to install and equip solar, wind, geothermal, micro-hydroelectric and biogas energy systems. The funds also may be used for community efficiency and weatherization technology. 

“The new program we’re announcing…will pilot the viability of community-scale renewable energy investments to mitigate the energy-burdened circumstances of particularly disadvantaged rural communities,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This assistance will help to keep people in their hometowns by supporting good paying jobs, business opportunities, and a more affordable cost of living.”

Nonprofits, as well as state, local and tribal entities may apply for funding, which could cover up to 80% of total eligible project costs.