We’re glad you can join us for this week’s edition of The Weekender, where we are following President Biden’s massive infrastructure proposal and the impacts it will have on clean energy jobs. President Biden also made headlines this past week after announcing his plans to remove all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 this fall, putting a cap on our “Forever War.”
THE BIG FIVE
Down to the wire: Biden’s green goals face a power grid reckoning. At the core of President Biden’s major infrastructure package announced last week was a big play to go green with projects that are quickly changing the energy sector. But Biden’s plan isn’t just about selling a better climate- it also needs the highways to make it possible. Long-range transmission lines are critical to adding more wind and solar power to the power grid and increasing their access across the country. They also bring several challenges: transmission investments underfunded and extensive permitting and planning processes also remain in regions across the country. Many other experts in the field say these projects can take nearly a decade to build. While this is the case, there is a silver lining for Biden: job creation and down payment. Biden’s plan won’t be footing the whole bill, but it can jumpstart transmission investments and bring line workers, electricians, and laborers on board for new projects. Translating the word transmission into reliability and job growth could give a jolt to the energy economy. Read more in Politico
The economy is on a high. What will happen when it wears off? As a post-pandemic America slowly but surely comes back into view, an accelerating economy is coming along with it. Experts say that the influx of government spending combined with the recovery has the potential to have record-breaking effects on the economy, including the fastest economic acceleration the U.S. has seen in nearly 40 years. But what happens in 2022 and beyond? Historically, one-time spending rarely provides long-term economic growth and stability, leaving many experts concerned about a potential economic reckoning on the horizon. New policies introduced by the Biden administration, including higher tax rates and regulations on climate issues, could tip the scales too. All these concerns and a long list of others spark various questions about the future of financial equality, economic independence, and inflation. With every step toward pandemic recovery, there seem to be two steps threatening to go backward. We’re going to need to brew another pot to get through this. Read more in CNBC
Biden plans to end the “Forever War” after 20 years in Afghanistan. Twenty years and four presidents later, President Biden and his administration announced their plans to withdraw the remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan, effectively putting an end to the “Forever War.” What started as daily front-page news quickly turned into a war that waged on for a generation. While both President Biden and President Trump had a shared commitment, expressed in very different ways, to withdraw U.S. troops as swiftly as possible, there has been a wide range of reactions across party lines. Some lawmakers worry about Afghanistan’s future without the United States’ support in holding the Taliban at bay, predicting that Afghanistan may not be able to maintain peace. Others applaud President Biden for putting his foot down and ending what they call a “vicious circle” of unobtainable goals. While the war will officially end 20 years after it started, the full implications of our decisions in the region will continue to be discovered over the next 20 years. Read more in New York Times
Cryptocurrency gets real on Wall Street. Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States, went public on Wednesday with a value of nearly $100 billion. Until this point, cryptocurrency didn’t hold much clout on Wall Street, but the market has changed and changed quickly. Coinbase enters Wall Street alongside competitors like Bitcoin, who have seen massive price booms over the past year. As more and more cryptocurrency companies hit the market, experts say they expect to see crypto investments gaining popularity among retail companies and investors, changing the industry’s game. No matter its lasting effects, the Bitcoin boom has entered the mainstream. Read more in Axios
Navigating the inevitable world of vaccine passports. Despite a pause with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and some hesitancy, vaccine distribution continues to increase throughout the U.S., consistently reaching the arms of millions of Americans per day. Now that vaccines are becoming common among the general public, the “vaccine passport” is emerging alongside them. Private companies, healthcare providers, and even retail stores are looking into developing a health pass app that would allow vaccinated Americans to show proof of vaccination in exchange for entering events or business establishments. Venues like Madison Square Garden have already adopted these measures, only allowing those who have tested negative for the virus or are fully vaccinated to be admitted to an in-person event. The federal government is now moving away from the idea, but that’s not stopping it from becoming a reality everywhere else. The biggest challenge will be navigating the lack of consistency throughout the business world and across state lines while answering this question: how do we find the balance between public health concerns and Americans’ privacy? Read more in CNN Business
12 months. The period in which Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla believes Americans will need to receive a booster dose of the vaccine to continue long-term protection against Covid-19.
$13.7 million. The median pay for CEOs of the largest U.S. public companies in 2020. The number is up from $12.8 million the year before.
33.3k. The number of U.S. millennials who moved to Texas in 2020, followed closely by 29.5k moving to Colorado.
13. The number of justices who would be on the Supreme Court under a new proposal by Democrats.
69%. The percentage of workers who note that a company’s environmental record is a factor in their job search.
878. The number of days Russian astronaut Gennady Padalka has spent in space.
16. The number of tech companies that made Glassdoor’s annual 25 Highest Paying U.S. Internships list.
$100 billion. The valuation of Coinbase, the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.
$279.3 billion. The amount in U.S. dollars in Texas exports that came out in 2020.
After the recent D.C. attacks, we asked you if new security measures should be added to the Capitol building. Here’s what you said:
YES – 60% NO – 40%
CDC identifies only 5,800 Covid-19 infections after the final vaccine, out of more than 66 million. And those who got it had mild cases. https://t.co/gvBu6s1mlQ