Friday, May 12, 2023

Questions from the Press, Friday, May 12, 2023.

Miles Trachtenberg
Heather Kelly Trachtenberg
I received questions today from Dan Johnson of the Sonoma Index-Tribune regarding last night's decision by the trustees of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District to proceed with construction of the Science Building at Sonoma Valley High School. Per my past practice, I post the questions and my answers below. 

I have attached a picture of my nephew, Miles, and my sister, Heather. Miles is graduating in a few weeks from his high school, the Houston Academy for International Studies, and at the same time has earned an associates in arts (AA) degree from Houston Community College, as he completed the work for both at the same time. He was also, incidentally, the prom king. Well done Miles!


1. Did the board approve the original agenda item—to approve the lease-lease back agreement—or did it simply vote to move forward with constructing the new science wing?

My understanding of the item is that it was approved as agendized. A lease-leaseback arrangement covers both the design and construction of a building, which allows collaboration with the builder throughout the process, an innovation that has resulted in lowered construction costs, and closer adherence to the agreed-to designs in school projects across California. The lease-leaseback approach aims to involve both the contractor and architect early in the project to, hopefully, minimize expensive changes after construction starts, ensuring the project stays within the initially established price. The method normally encourages close collaboration between the architect and builder from the beginning and throughout the project. In contrast, the traditional design-bid-build process often lacks this level of coordination, as design documents are completed before the contractor's involvement.
This particular lease-leaseback arrangement was entered into several years ago, but commencing construction under the terms of the lease-leaseback itself requires approval from the board. Again, my understanding of the agenda item was that we were approving construction pursuant to the original lease-leaseback arrangement.

2. So, does this mean that the school district has not arranged yet for a construction company to build the science wing? I thought that a construction company had been determined. If so, what is the name of the construction company and what is the significance of the lease-lease back agreement?

The relationship with the contractor, GCCI, was formed at the time of the inception of the lease-leaseback relationship, which is normal and routine. We are continuing with the agreed-to contractor, which is what I would expect if the District did indeed intend to follow through and make the bond expenditure. However, we are not required to do so -- as a District we have the discretion to decline to proceed. Especially given the greatly modified scope of this particular project, which has been transformed from a mere remodel to a complete demolition and reconstruction, it would not have been unexpected for this project not to have gone forward.

3. I see that the modernization is estimated to cost $15,484,390, quite a bit higher than the original estimate of $8,684,390. Why has the cost increased so much?

We are now demolishing the existing building and commencing construction on an entirely new one, a very different proposition from the original proposal. Further, the costs of remodeling included many accommodations to the existing design, making it essentially no different from, and perhaps even more expensive than, simply knocking down the building and starting over. However, the remodel was initially conceived as a cost-saving measure to avoid having to construct a completely new building. Had the District known that remodeling would essentially involve a decision to demolish, I feel the decision probably would have gone a different way.

4. The new science wing was scheduled to be built by summer 2024. Will this still be the case? When will construction begin?

My belief is that demolition will begin shortly after the conclusion of classes in June. I defer to staff and the contractor regarding the expected completion date. 

5. Will the district be able to pay for the new science wing strictly through Measure E funds?

It is the belief of the District that it will be able to do so. Several of our bond projects have run over cost significantly. We have little room left for error at this point.

6. It seemed that most of the concerns about approving this agenda item centered around costs to improve facilities at Altimira Middle School. What work needs to be done at Altimira?

Seven Altimira buildings were constructed via "tilt-up," and they constitute the bulk of the Altimira campus. Tilt-Up construction features series of concrete panels tilted up into place to form a building's exterior wall. These panels are created at the work site using wood forms, rebar and concrete. The forms are shaped and rebar cut to match the final designs. Next, concrete is poured into the forms and finished. 

While the technique was popular in the middle of the 20th century due to the perceived lower cost associated with the method, in the longer term the price associated with maintaining adherence with seismic safety standards ultimately makes it no less, and perhaps more expensive that competing methods of construction. During the preparation of the facilities master plan by Perkins Eastman, the consultants brought to light the SB 300 status of Altimira’s buildings. These buildings do not meet current seismic safety standards and SVUSD will be required to conduct a retrofit (at best) and perhaps will have to demolish and reconstruct these buildings in the near future, as the structures simply do not meet contemporary seismic safety standards -- a fact only brought to light in January of 2023. 

7. Why wasn’t the work at Altimira included in the list of bond projects?

The process of choosing projects on which to expend bond dollars was supposed to be guided by the principle of "safe, warm and dry." Safety was, at all times, intended to be the guiding principle in project prioritization. I have had disappointment over and over again at how the politicization of construction in the District has led to very different priorities being advanced. Ultimately, the bond expenditure program ended up being a series of compromises between competing groups all with legitimate claims to the expenditure of resources. My belief is that we as a District cannot allow that to occur again, and we must make sure to constrain, in the drafting of the bond measure language, the projects the trustees are allowed to expend funds regarding. 

8. How much do you expect the work at Altimira will cost?

I don't know. I have asked repeatedly for an estimate. Perkins Eastman represented to me they would have an estimate several times, including at our March and April meetings, but no information has been forthcoming. 

My expectation, at this point, is that the buildings will all need to be demolished and reconstructed, and I expect each will cost in the range of $10-$15 million. In aggregate, I would not be surprised if the total figure is between $70-$100 million as a consequence. 
While our business officials have expressed hope that remediation may be an order of magnitude less than this, more in the range of $5-$7 million, their reticence in committing to that figure is the "tell," so to speak, regarding the confidence anyone can have in that back-of-the-envelope calculation. 

9. Do you anticipate that another bond measure will need to be passed to do the work at Altimira, or can it be paid for in another way?

There was a lot of general language shared in the meeting regarding alternative funding mechanisms. Among the suggestions was the sale of District property, a complete nonstarter as far as I am concerned. CDOs, or collateralized debt obligations, are of course available, but because those are backstopped by the District's general fund, they should not be used in my opinion unless the project to which they are dedicated is revenue-generating. While there is some state money, and redevelopment agency funds anticipated to be received in future years that could potentially be securitized, none of these are appropriate for the construction of ordinary school facilities that were and are the top-line priority for past and future bond campaigns. Simply put, if we're not using bond monies for seismic safety, what are we using them for in the first place? Is there any higher priority than student safety in an earthquake, particularly for a school that serves our most disadvantaged student population? 

10. Do you think that it is likely that a bond measure could pass, and would other district needs be included in it?

This is too contingent of a question to answer at this time. SVUSD's record of bond expenditures makes clear that any language in a future bond will have to be carefully scrutinized before it is allowed to go to the voters. Having witnessed the gap between the reality of how bond funds have been spent, and how they were represented to the public in the first place, I would be very uncomfortable ever bringing such general language to the voters again. The legitimacy and accuracy of the bond offering is critical to ensuring that the funds are expended as the voters intended, and that just didn't happen in the past. 

11. You indicated that you felt there were strong arguments both for and against moving ahead with building the science wing. Please summarize your thoughts. 

Only the most trivial of arguments are easily disproved, and as trustees we know we are grappling with our essential duties when strong arguments can be deployed both pro and con. Here, support for science education is amongst the top priorities of our trustees. Remodeling our buildings that serve that important program will help equip our students for success in a future yet to be imagined, let alone fully described. I can understand the inclinations of my fellow trustees to proceed with the project given that important priority. Further, the fact that it has taken this long to reach this important project is again a further testament to how other projects, of less import to our constituents, were nonetheless advanced on the District's construction calendar. 

Change is difficult. It is scary to confront the costs that we may be facing at Altimira. As our business officials noted, the costs at Altimira may be so high that the remaining bond funds would be inadequate to address the issue, and the science building project is ready to commence. However, our voters expect us to prioritize given the facts that this board confronts, not the ones faced by another board in another time. The clear problems at Altimira, and the lack of any guidance given to the trustees on those costs, while the trustees were urged to approve this science building project that is now nearly double its initial estimates, justified caution in proceeding and the trustees should have obtained more information before approving the science building. Thus, the source of disagreement I think did not turn on the merits of the science building itself, but whether the appropriate amount of information had been provided to the trustees to weigh the competing interests. A special meeting could have been scheduled in a week or ten days to review estimates of Altimira and make a fully informed decision; the fact that the trustees did not wait to obtain that before proceeding was thus the ultimate source of disagreement at the meeting last night. 

12. How will building a new science wing enhance education for Sonoma Valley High School students?

New facilities are amongst the clearest ways we, as a District, can show our commitment to a particular program, and science education lies at the core of our current understanding of how to prepare our graduates for college and career. Existing facilities do not meet the needs of our program, as articulated by our educators. I trust their evaluation of this, and the science building is indeed a priority. 
There are alternatives to new construction, including the fact that as our enrollment and attendance decline, we have a surfeit of classrooms and structures available for repurposing. There was not a detailed discussion of those alternatives, and I would have liked to have seen if there were other options before proceeding. There were discussions about whether that information could be provided quickly, and I think it would have been appropriate for the trustees to consider this before proceeding.

13. Would you like to say anything else?

I believe that my fellow trustees are acting to resolve competing claims to resources, which is a classic function of a school board. It is right and proper that they should do this. However, I believe prudence here would have guided us to conserve bond funds, in an effort to demonstrate this board is aware of the issues with prior bond expenditures and knows the public is observing how well our governance team matches professed values with those practiced and applied over time. We as a District should be doing all we can to conserve resources to address those most critical of issues, and it is hard to find any more important in the context of facilities than seismic safety. While I realize those who serve as trustees with me now were not those who made earlier decisions regarding the expenditure of bond funds, we have collective responsibility for the operations of the District and we must recognize that the public will not distinguish us from one another when evaluating whether to support future bond expenditures, which will inevitably be necessary to maintain the quality of instruction our community wants and deserves. I remain committed to working with my fellow trustees to navigate these difficult questions in the future, despite our disagreement at times over priorities, such as we had last night over this construction decision.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Boxed Wines: When It's Hip to Be Square.

"Coravin Model Two Wine Preservation Opener."
© 2017 JGuzman.

In a recent article published by The New York Times, Eric Asimov discusses the growing popularity and quality of boxed wines, primarily driven by environmental concerns. While boxed wines have faced resistance in the past due to perceptions of lower quality, this is changing as more producers and merchants choose bag-in-box packaging for wines not intended for cellaring. This shift is driven by the fact that wine bottles are a significant environmental problem, contributing to the wine industry's carbon footprint, and a low percentage of glass is recycled in the United States. Bag-in-box packaging offers several advantages, including preserving the wine's freshness for longer periods and reducing waste, making it a suitable option for wines not meant for aging.

Asimov, however, briefly mentions an important factor that contributes to the stigma around boxed wine: its unsuitability for wines intended to age more than a year. More expensive wines often require cellaring to reach their full potential, which necessitates the use of glass bottles -- meaning the highest quality wines will be linked with glass. This is a significant obstacle to boxed wine's acceptance, even if a marketing team on par with Apple were to make the "unboxing" experience more attractive. The perception (and indeed fact) of wine in a glass bottle as a higher-end product may thus hinder the progress of environmentally friendly alternatives.

Moreover, it's important to recognize two separate innovations in this space: the use of cardboard as a container and the vacuum-sealed bag that extends the wine's shelf life after opening. The latter, in the context of higher-end wines, is typically where Coravin technology is utilized. A vacuum-sealed bag is a far better solution than needles through corks and argon containers. A system that could combine the best of the two, allowing decanting into a vacuum-sealed enclosure that provides some of the time extension advantages, would avoid the unwieldy elements of Coravin. A competitor that streamlines the process while maintaining a high-quality image may be better poised to meet the needs of consumers, if not specifically addressing the carbon footprint and environmental impact of the industry.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Potpourri for Tuesday, May 9, 2023.

Mission San Francisco Solano.
(Namesake of Sonoma Mission Inn.)
© 2018 Fred Hsu.

In a recent article by Chase Hunter and Susan Wood of the Sonoma Index-Tribune, an investigation by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found sufficient evidence to prosecute 43 labor law violations at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. Workers at the luxury Boyes Hot Springs hotel have been trying to unionize since fall, but the hotel has attempted to intimidate, threaten, and bribe employees, according to Carlos Castillo, a housekeeping houseman at the hotel for 13 years. The three-month investigation revealed violations such as illegal threats of reprisals against employees for engaging in union activities, interrogation of employees about their union activities, and promising a promotion to an employee if they refrained from union activities.

Ted Waechter, a union spokesman, confirmed that the timeline surrounding a union vote remains undetermined. The NLRB has required the hotel management to post information about employees' right to organize in order to rectify the labor violations. According to a press release, the Fairmont Sonoma has agreed to multiple concessions, including instructing employees about their rights at work, granting the union equal time should the hotel conduct further meetings about unionization, and refraining from further violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

The Sonoma Valley has experienced a significant shift towards a tourism-based economy in recent years, but little has been done to protect the workers who keep this industry thriving. These employees face a myriad of challenges, including long commute times, poor working conditions, unaffordable housing, underfunded schools, and inadequate healthcare. The local economy relies on the hard work and dedication of these individuals, and they deserve a better deal. The interference with organizing efforts at a flagship institution like the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn is particularly disconcerting, as it sets a precedent for other businesses in the region. Workers in the Sonoma Valley should have the opportunity to advocate for their rights and secure better working conditions without disruption to ensure a sustainable and equitable tourism industry for all.


The Berkeley Library, Trinity College Dublin.
 © 2014 Smirkybec.

Trinity College Dublin has decided to rename its central library, formerly known as the Berkeley Library, after discovering that the 18th-century philosopher George Berkeley, whom the library was named after, owned slaves in colonial Rhode Island and wrote pamphlets supportive of slavery. Despite being regarded as one of the most influential thinkers of the early modern period, Trinity's governing board voted to "dename" the library following months of research and consultation. According to the article by Ed O'Loughlin from The New York Times, Trinity College's provost, Linda Doyle, stated that while Berkeley's intellectual legacy remains intact, his involvement in slavery and racial discrimination conflicts with the college's core values.

The decision to rename the library came after students at the college began lobbying and protesting for a re-examination of Berkeley's legacy. Although his name will be removed from the library, George Berkeley's philosophical and scientific theories will continue to be taught at the college. Meanwhile, the University of California, Berkeley, founded in 1868, was also named after the philosopher, along with the adjacent city (founded in 1878). In recent years, there have been efforts to address problematic legacies within the University of California system. The Berkeley campus' law school, generally known as Boalt Hall, was renamed following recognition of John H. Boalt's authorship of the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act. Similarly, the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco was renamed after discussions surrounding Serranus Hastings' involvement in Native American genocide. 

As the University of California system continues to confront and address these historical issues, it seems increasingly likely that the system will also have to reckon with George Berkeley's record as a slave owner and advocate of slavery. In light of these revelations, a potential renaming of the UC Berkeley campus to simply the "University of California" might be an inevitable step toward distancing the institution from its controversial namesake.


Dedicated parking lot for EVs in Oslo, Norway.
© 2018 Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz.

As reported today by Jack Ewing in The New York Times, Norway now serves as a prime example of how prioritizing electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure can lead to significant benefits, both environmentally and economically. 80% of new-car sales in Norway were electric in 2022, with the government planning to phase out internal combustion engine cars by 2025. This transition has not only led to cleaner air, quieter streets, and a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2009, but it has also avoided mass unemployment among gas station workers and the collapse of the electrical grid. Tesla has emerged as the best-selling brand in the country, while traditional automakers like Renault and Fiat struggle to keep up.

The Norwegian government's proactive approach, dating back to the 1990s, has been key to the successful adoption of EVs. By exempting battery-powered vehicles from value-added and import taxes and highway tolls, as well as subsidizing the construction of fast charging stations, Norway has made EVs an attractive option for its citizens. The country's power grid has remained stable, with a modest increase in electricity demand from EVs and ample supply from hydropower. However, Norway faces the challenge of balancing its ambitious climate goals, such as reducing carbon dioxide emissions to nearly zero by 2030, with its continued reliance on oil and gas production, which generated $180 billion in revenue in 2022.

Addressing the lack of EV infrastructure is crucial for governments worldwide, as it presents a classic case of coordinated action to solve a collective problem—emissions contributing to climate change. This infrastructure deficit is a legacy of the long-standing economic dominance of the fossil fuel industry. As nations strive to reduce their carbon footprints and combat climate change, it is reasonable to expect governments to follow Norway's lead in ensuring the necessary infrastructure is in place. By enacting policies and incentives to encourage EV adoption and the development of a comprehensive charging network, governments can facilitate the transition to cleaner transportation and address the challenges posed by our dependence on fossil fuels.

Monday, May 8, 2023

The Overlooked Impact of Highway 37 Improvements on the Napa River Bridge.

Susan Wood's article last Friday in The North Bay Business Journal describes how Highway 37, on the northern edge of San Francisco (San Pablo) Bay, is planned for improvements to address traffic congestion and flooding issues. A proposed $7 toll aims to fund the $430 million project for widening the 21-mile road between Marin and Solano counties. However, the added toll has sparked some complaints from commuters.

Introducing a toll on Highway 37 will potentially lead to increased use of Highway 12 to Highway 29, particularly the untolled Napa River Bridge (George F. Butler Memorial Bridge). While imposing a toll on Highway 37 would help address congestion issues and generate revenue for road maintenance, what will prevent traffic from shifting to the alternate route, creating new challenges, as discussed previously?

If the use of the Napa River Bridge rises significantly due to the Highway 37 toll, the straightforward answer would be to consider implementing a similar toll system on the untolled alternative. Yet, local traffic in Napa Valley is far less likely to accept pricing for the Napa River Bridge compared to Highway 37 commuters crossing a 10-mile causeway. There seems to be a lack of recognition of how these routes together affect North Bay transportation planning in general.

The initial Highway 37 project is scheduled from 2025 to 2027, so work could begin in as little as 18 months. This phase will include adding an electronic toll station, a bus service, and a low-income discount program. However, it is important to note that the proposed traffic mitigation, bus transport, does not address issues in either Sonoma Valley or Napa Valley for traffic between the two regions. If the project is to prove successful, it is likely that at a minimum, installation of toll infrastructure at the Napa River Bridge should be included, even if it is not activated at the same time as tolls on Highway 37 -- and which leads, via an oblique angle, to the general issue of congestion pricing in the North Bay ...

Sunday, May 7, 2023

IOLERO Audit Uncovers Incomplete Investigations in Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.

"21st Century Policing Task Force Report."
Pete Souza, March 2, 2015.
In a recent Press Democrat article, Emma Murphy and Colin Atagi discuss an audit conducted by Sonoma County's Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach (IOLERO). The audit revealed that out of 36 internal investigations into disciplinary cases within the Sheriff's Office over the past six years, half were incomplete. Four cases specifically involved policy violations that received inadequate punishments. As a civilian-led oversight agency, IOLERO's role is to audit the Sheriff's Office's internal investigations and recommend policy changes and disciplinary actions when necessary.

The report highlighted cases involving excessive use of force by deputies, inappropriate relationships with confidential informants, and inaccurate information transmitted by dispatchers. The most severe case concerned a deputy's excessive use of force in 2020, which IOLERO concluded should have resulted in termination. Other cases involved a deputy with an inappropriate relationship with a confidential informant, a county jail correctional deputy's excessive use of force against an inmate, and a dispatcher who created an entry implying a husband involved in a domestic violence incident was violent without factual basis.

Sonoma County Sheriff Eddie Engram attributed the high number of incomplete investigations to differing definitions of "complete investigations" between the Sheriff's Office and IOLERO. He expressed confidence that the ratio of incomplete reports would decrease in the next annual report, as he and IOLERO Director John Alden have begun discussing how to define a complete investigation.

The report coincides with Alden and Engram's pledge to improve their shared work, marking a major step forward for IOLERO and the Sheriff's Office, following a historically combative relationship between the two organizations. IOLERO's report also marked a significant milestone, as the agency has cleared its backlog of investigations, allowing the six-member office to carry out its key responsibility of auditing the Sheriff's Office internal investigations more quickly.

From the perspective of school board trustees, I feel that these recent findings could be concerning when evaluating proposals for school resource officers (SROs) in Sonoma County. As trustees are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of students, staff, and the school community, the quality and effectiveness of any potential program must be carefully assessed in light of these revelations. The report highlights the need for improved transparency, communication, and accountability within the Sheriff's Office, which directly impacts the SRO program and the level of trust that school board members and the community at large can place in it for those jurisdictions that contract with the Sheriff's Office for services.

To make informed decisions, school board trustees should closely monitor the progress made by the Sheriff's Office and IOLERO in defining and implementing complete investigations and addressing policy violations. It is essential that the collaboration between law enforcement agencies and IOLERO results in proper training, guidance, and oversight, while also addressing concerns raised by parents, students, and the broader community. Additionally, trustees should continue to consider alternative methods of providing safety and support to schools, such as implementing mental health programs, restorative justice practices, or peer mediation initiatives. By actively engaging in discussions and decision-making processes, school board trustees can better evaluate the overall safety and well-being of Sonoma County schools.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Protecting Communities: Addressing Toxic Chemical Releases.

ExxonMobil's Baytown, Texas Refinery.
© 2008 Baytownbert.

In an article by Eric Lipton in today's New York Times, the Biden administration's efforts to curb health threats caused by toxic chemicals from petrochemical plants are discussed. As the debate surrounding these health threats intensifies, families living near petrochemical plants, like the López family in Deer Park, Texas, are directly affected. The Biden administration is aiming to impose restrictions on toxic air releases and ban or restrict some of the most hazardous chemicals. However, companies are pressuring the administration to loosen some of the rules, fearing economic repercussions.

Toxic chemical releases are happening regularly in the Deer Park area, sometimes without notification to residents. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is cracking down on carcinogens released by plants such as the OxyVinyls plastics manufacturing plant across the highway from the López family. Over the past two years, records show the release of numerous toxic chemicals in the area, including some the Biden administration is preparing to impose new restrictions on.

As I reviewed this article, I recalled the German legal principle of "Vorsorgeprinzip," or the precautionary principle, that analytically should play a significant role in addressing the issues surrounding toxic chemical releases. This doctrine emphasizes the importance of taking preventive measures when an action or policy has the potential to cause harm to the public or the environment, even when scientific evidence is incomplete or inconclusive. If the Vorsorgeprinzip were applied to these chemical plants, it would require proactive action to minimize potential health risks and environmental damage.

In light of the precautionary principle, the EPA's proposed policies, that aim to remove a loophole that allows toxic chemical discharges during bad storms, plant malfunctions, or start-ups and shutdowns, are clearly warranted. The EPA also plans to require many chemical plants to monitor air at their fence lines for six key toxics to ensure compliance with the rules. By taking a more preventive approach, these policies aim to protect residents like those in Deer Park from potential harm.

Recent studies have shown that about 100,000 people living within six miles of chemical plants, mostly in Texas and Louisiana, have an elevated risk of cancer. In Houston, a separate study found elevated levels of formaldehyde, which can increase the risk of developing cancer if the levels persist. Another study found a 56% increased risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia among children living within two miles of the Houston Ship Channel compared to those living at least 10 miles away. Under the Vorsorgeprinzip, these findings warrant immediate and decisive action to reduce the risks posed by these plants.

Implementing the precautionary principle in addressing the issues surrounding petrochemical plants would lead to more stringent regulations and proactive measures to protect public health and the environment. While this approach may result in higher costs for the industry, it prioritizes the well-being of communities like the López family and others living near these facilities.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

The New Geography of US Clean Energy Manufacturing.

"Solar Panels at Topaz Solar 1."
2014 Sarah Swenty/USFWS.
Public Domain.
via Wikimedia Commons.
In today's New York Times, Jim Tankersley and Brad Plumer review the impact of President Biden's climate law, finding it is driving more investment in American clean energy manufacturing than initially expected. This surge in investments in battery factories, wind and solar farms, and electric vehicle plants could lead to a significant reduction in fossil fuel emissions. However, the increased economic activity centered around green technology is also driving up costs for taxpayers who are subsidizing these investments.

The article prompted me to think about Paul Krugman's theory of New Economic Geography, and how the investments driven by Biden's climate law are reshaping the spatial distribution of economic activities in the United States. Companies are flocking to areas with abundant land, lower costs, and non-unionized labor, potentially turning these regions into new hubs of clean energy manufacturing. These emerging hubs could experience agglomeration effects, with firms and workers in the same industry clustering together, benefiting from localized knowledge spillovers, specialized suppliers, and a larger labor pool. Interestingly, the growth of clean energy projects in red states also highlights the potential for the law to bridge the gap between traditionally fossil fuel-dependent regions and the emerging green economy, fostering more balanced and sustainable regional development.

Moreover, the article brought to mind Brad DeLong's theory of communities of engineering expertise, and the importance of government investment in creating such communities that drive technological progress and economic growth. By providing substantial tax breaks and incentives for clean energy projects, the Biden administration is fostering an environment that attracts both domestic and international companies to invest in the United States. These investments can lead to the development of localized clusters of expertise in clean energy technologies, which, according to DeLong, are essential for driving innovation and maintaining a competitive edge in the global market.

As more companies, such as South Korean solar company Hanwha Qcells, establish factories and research centers in the United States, the spillover effects can create a virtuous cycle of innovation, job creation, and economic growth. This cycle ultimately reinforces the country's position as a leader in the clean energy sector. While the rising cost estimates have caused some controversy among lawmakers, the long-term benefits of fostering a clean energy economy should not be overlooked.

The increased investments in clean energy manufacturing as a result of Biden's climate law have significant implications for the United States' economic landscape and its fight against climate change. Krugman and DeLong emphasize the role of government intervention in shaping regional development and fostering communities of expertise that drive innovation and growth in the clean energy sector. The economic and geographical implications of these investments may thus be essential to continuing the United States' transition toward a greener economy, as the community of stakeholders continues to expand.