The White House refused to answer questions Thursday about how much President Biden's potential billion-dollar climate work program unveiled this week will cost taxpayers.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, a White House official only said the American Climate Corps (ACC), which Biden created via executive action Wednesday, would tap into existing streams of revenue. But the official declined to share the exact price tag of the program previously pegged by Democrats at between $10 billion and $30 billion.
"The American Climate Corps leverages existing programs and existing authorities across agencies, who will work together to implement the ACC," the White House official said.
According to the White House, the ACC will mobilize "a new, diverse generation" of more than 20,000 Americans who will be trained and put to work on conservation, clean energy and environmental justice projects. The ultimate goal of the program, which largely mimics New Deal-era initiatives, is to pave the way for paid members of the corps to find jobs in the public and private sector.
Biden's executive action came after progressive lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and climate activist organizations repeatedly called for such a work program to combat global warming. Those lawmakers and groups applauded the announcement this week.
"The creation of the American Climate Corps will mobilize young people who care so deeply about the future of our planet and who are ready to take on the existential threat of climate change," Sanders said. "It’s a good start. Let’s go forward together."
However, previous versions of the climate corps outlined by both the White House and Democrats have been projected to cost billions. The pricey program has failed to receive congressional support.
For example, Biden's American Jobs Plan released in March 2021 earmarked $10 billion for a climate corps, the description of which closely mirrored the American Climate Corps announced Wednesday.
And the Build Back Better Act, which the House passed in late 2021 with a Democratic majority but stalled in the Senate, proposed to appropriate $30 billion for "national service and workforce development in support of climate resilience and mitigation," the provision that would have created a climate corps. That provision was stripped from the Inflation Reduction Act, the legislation that replaced Build Back Better.
"As is standard practice for the Biden administration, yesterday's climate corps proposal is another executive overreach forced onto the American taxpayer," House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., told Fox News Digital. "Instead of addressing rampant inflation, skyrocketing energy prices or the crisis at the border, the Biden administration is more focused on pleasing radical environmental groups.
"Meanwhile, American families are struggling to keep the lights on or put food on their tables," Westerman added. "While Republicans are working to pass solutions like the Lower Energy Costs Act, this administration is turning its back on average Americans and creating expensive programs without congressional approval just to appease the furthest left wing of their donor base."
The ACC proposal also received criticism from experts who said it was unnecessary, expensive and could get in the way of existing private and public sector conservation efforts.
"Conservation is better suited when it's not a whole-of-government approach," Gabriella Hoffman, a senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum's Center for Energy and Conservation, told Fox News Digital in an interview. "You work with the government, in private-public partnerships, but a program like this deployed at the federal level undermines conservation projects on the ground.
"I think it's doomed to fail because it's by executive order," she added. "It interferes with a lot of projects that are already working. So, I think they're encroaching on conservation as it is, and we don't need that. I think government creates and complicates problems further and erodes true conservation practices."