Daily digest: Biden administration releases plan to solarize the U.S., Robert J. Verrier passes away, and more

Going Up

Daily digest: Biden administration releases plan to solarize the U.S., Robert J. Verrier passes away, and more

A field of solar panels in Indiana (American Public Power Association/Unsplash)

Good morning and welcome back to another halfway mark through the workweek; here are a handful of stories to help carry you through to Friday.

Here’s what you need to know today:

The Biden administration releases plan to switch half of U.S. energy generation to solar by 2050

Today, the Biden administration released an ambitious plan to up the percentage of electricity generated in the United States via photovoltaic panels from 4 to 45 percent by 2050. The announcement is something of a broad outline whose specifics will be figured out with the passage of the $3.5 trillion budget and infrastructure bill currently being hammered out in the Senate, but to get there, the U.S. would need to double the number of solar panels installed every year through 2030. While this would obviously bolster the number of sustainable energy jobs across the country, even solar specialists have been skeptical that the administration possesses the political will to implement such a broadly ambitious project.

Still, the importance of decarbonizing the economy can’t be overstated, especially as climate change-exacerbated wildfires and hurricanes continue to ravage the United States. The Biden administration has also expressed that it wants to bring the entire energy grid to net-zero emissions by 2035.

H/t to the New York Times

Adaptive reuse and preservation expert Robert J. Verrier passes away

Architect Robert J. Verrier, FAIA, NCARB, passed away at the age of 81 on August 24. Verrier, founder of the Chelsea, Massachusetts-based The Architectural Team (TAT), spent his long career working to adapt and reuse historic structures from schools to chocolate factories, always focused on both the ecological and local impacts that reviving such buildings would have. In his obituary, Verrier’s family recalled his commitment to equity and bettering the lives of others, saying that “Verrier’s love of old buildings and his passion for the preservation of historic fabric, overlapped with his devotion to the mission of creating quality affordable, safe, and attractive housing for those in most need.”

Construction groups protest PRO Act inclusion in reconciliation bill over higher labor violation penalties

The previously mentioned $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package is an opportunity for Democrats to include (or attempt to) provisions without a straight vote, but one law that won’t be fully included is the PRO Act. Still, elements of the bill (H.R.842 – Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021, which improves labor protections related to unionization) are likely to be included, including harsher penalties for businesses that attempt to disrupt organizing or that act punitively towards whistleblowers.

Both the Associated Builders and Contractors and the Associated General Contractors of America have come out swinging against the proposal, arguing that the civil penalties associated, ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 for repeat violations, are too damaging and that the move would strangle small businesses. Additionally, contractors are arguing that it would give unions too much power, including more leverage at the negotiating table, which could “hamper long-term competitiveness.”

H/t to Construction Dive

Milwaukee wants to bolster Black and Latino homeownership

Yesterday, September 7, the City of Milwaukee formally unveiled a plan to create 32,000 new Black and Latino homeowners. The plan targets residents making between $15,080 to $31,200 annually and will bolster affordable housing in the city over the next 10 years with a $162 million investment; however, it also calls for an additional $135 million, though the source of that funding, expected to be from grants and loans, is still up in the air. Ultimately the city hopes to build or preserve 32,000 homes and another 32,000 affordable rental properties for Black and Latino residents specifically over the next 30 years.

H/t to Urban Milwaukee

Steve Bannon’s “philosophy academy” evicted from 13th-century Italian monastery

The long-running saga of Steve Bannon and Benjamin Harnwell’s plans to open a right-wing school of philosophy in a 13th-century Italian monastery looks like it’s finally winding down. Italy’s Ministry of Culture has formally evicted the school from the Certosa di Trisulti in  Collepardo, a small municipality in the Frosinone province, is looking into opening the 810-year-old former abbey to visitors while exploring long-term uses for the national monument. Harnwell has planned to take his case to the Italian Supreme Court, Corte di Cassazione, arguing that the Dignitatis Humanae Institute (of which Harnwell is president) still has a valid claim on the site.

H/t to The Art Newspaper

Mass protests hit El Salvador over Bitcoin adoption

One day after El Salvador became the world’s first country to adopt Bitcoin as legally accepted tender, citizens have taken to the streets to protest the move. Aside from concerns about volatility (the price of Bitcoin fell by $6,000 to $46,000 each after traders started a mass selloff following the law’s enactment), protestors were out in force over the new requirement that all businesses accept Bitcoin and the glitchy state of the government’s official wallet app. The price drop also meant that the government, which purchased 400 coins ahead of time at a price of approximately $21 million, has already lost $2 million.

H/t to Gizmodo