Just as EPA Doesn’t Like Getting Dumped on, Neither do West Virginians …

[Ed. note: In case you missed it this week, Rainforest Action Network took some direction action, ensuring the EPA heard them.]

Earlier this week, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) paid a visit to EPA headquarters in Washington, DC, and brought along a gift: a truckload of Appalachian dirt and rubble . As per the photo, the message was simple:

EPA: don’t let King Coal dump on Appalachia.

This, of course, is referring to the damage in the ongoing War on Appalachia politely called "mountain-top removal" and the "fill" from these operations that are dumped in Appalachia’s valleys and streams with devastating impacts for the ecosystems and dangerous implications on human health.

The RAN activists dumped 1000 lbs of ‘fill’ to pressure the EPA to stand with science and veto the 2,278 acre Spruce Mountain MTR project in West Virginia. EPA has, to date, been strongly indicating an intention to deny the Spruce Mountain permit. From nearly a year ago,


Five Percent a Year is all we ask …

Our combined energy and climate challenges and opportunities are incredibly complex and interrelated issues. Throw in other resource challenges, economic challenges, and a myriad of other factors and, well, the complexity can overwhelm any and all.

Clarity of targets matter. Ever more experts are endorsing the call to create a path to return the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations to 350 parts per million or less.

350: the most important number in the world

Three numbers to encapsulate so many things about the need to reduce emissions, determine paths to (naturally) sequester carbon, …

One of the problems of the Waxman-Markey ACES and other climate bills, the incredibly complexity of their structures and uncertain relationships between the bill’s "targets" and scientific understanding of our problems.

In the face of Deepwater Horizon, the political obstacles to climate legislation, etc …, perhaps it is time to look for a straightforward statement as to how we should move forward to address our energy and climate challenges while improving our economic and security systems … Perhaps it is time to turn to

The Five Percent Solution

a path toward energy security, economic prosperity, and climate change mitigation.

Very simply, The Five Percent Solution calls on the United States to embrace quite achievable and straightforward objectives for each and every year …:

  • Cut oil use five percent.
  • Cut coal-fired electricity by five percent of 2010 levels.

To be clear, these seemingly radical targets are clearly achievable and would boost the economy. (For outlines / discussions of these, see: How America Can Break Its Coal Addiction (Or: no, coal isn’t necessary) and, re oil, see some ideas in Shaving away at our fossil foolish addictions … some thoughts and here.)

There are many additional "five percents" potentially worth including to add to or enable achieving these targets. Increasing America’s urban farms by 5% per year (Victory Gardens in the fight to triumph over Peak Oil and ‘defeat’ Climate Change?). Energy Audits and efficiency retrofits for at least five percent of America’s homes and buildings. Increase CAFE standards five percent per year. Etc …

Targets with meaning are achievable …

To the extent that Congress is discussing (battling) over carbon emissions reductions, the numbers being discussed are in the range of 15-20% reductions … from 2005 levels. These sound so significant … even as they fall far short of the (outdated and likely not strong enough) scientifically-based target of 25-40% below 1990 levels.

Yet … those targets perhaps aren’t quite so aggressive. As the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) just reported, US carbon emissions fell by some 7 percent in 2009. While some (roughly a third) of that fall was due to economic problems, other factors were the primary driver for reducing emission … factors including improving efficiency of energy use and increasing renewable energy production. In fact, the ‘non’ economic drivers of reduced CO2 emissions are in the range of five percent.

When looking to the commonly discussed use of 2005 as the target year, 2009 is already over 10 percent below 2005 levels (down to 5405 million metric tons carbon dioxide from 5973 mmt.) and more than half-the-way to below 1990 levels (5020 million metric tons).

Hmmm … for some reason, targeting 10, 15, or 20 percent below 2005 levels doesn’t seem like such a stretch goal.

Shaving five percent per year from Co2 emissions levels, assuming that 2010 matches 2009, would drive emissions from 5405 mmt in 2010 to under 2900 mmt (or over 40% below 1990 levels) by 2020 and to just over 1700 mmt in 2030 …

Very simply

Via the 5% solution, by 2030 the United States will:

  • End, 100%, oil imports.
  • End, 100%, the burning of coal for electricity
  • Reduce climate emissions by 65+ percent from 1990 levels
  • Improve the US trade balance by five percent of gross domestic product (due to eliminating oil imports)
  • Cut health care impacts from fossil fuel use by 50%
  • Improve productivity, per decade, by at least 5% above ‘business as usual’
  • Cut employment below 5% by 2015 and maintain unemployment levels below 5% through 2030.

And … well … additional benefits.

Five Percent Per Year … achievable, beneficial, necessary … let’s get to it …

Update: for an excellent, parrallel, overlapping discussion, see Sara Robinson’s typically brilliant and passionate America’s Carbon Addiction: this is an Intervention. Sara derives much from the Apollo experience and concludes her post as follows:

Stepping up to that the five percent solution in a positive and inspiring way will have some immediate practical and political benefits, too. For one thing, it will put a fast end to the pseudo-populist whining from the right, embarrass resistant corporatists into getting on board, and rally the country around a truly positive and inclusive vision of its own future. For another, it would put progressives, once and for all, on the moral offensive as the guardians of the true American vision.

What — are you against American greatness? Are you not willing to sacrifice for a stronger, more secure, more independent, more resilient nation? Are you one of those small-minded, stingy whiners who don’t believe in your country, and aren’t willing to invest in great things?

If so: shame on you. Also: please shut up.

This kind of turnaround is well within the reach of any truly visionary leader. President Obama could do it tomorrow — and would, if he was willing to live up to even half his promise. It would, absolutely, be his defining JFK moment — the moment that we foreswore our addictions, reclaimed our national soul, seized this day and our entire future, and put ourselves back on the path to greatness.

We should want the second line in those 3010 history books to read: "Forty years later, the Americans were the foresighted visionaries who led the world off carbon-based fuels and put a stop to global warming, thus saving civilization." Today could easily be the first day of the rest of that marvelous history. But that will only happen if get our heads out of the barrel, reclaim our greatness, and become the country we once were — and still have it within us to be again.

A return to principles …

In the will they, won’t they, those fighting for climate change mitigation wait to see what Kerry-Graham-Lieberman (oops, Kerry-Lieberman) will contain.

There are many ways to judge what comes out but the simplest and, for me, most important is to consider basic principles. At their core, just six words:

  • Scientifically Sound
  • Polluters Pay
  • Social Equity

If climate legislation meets the standards implied by these six words, expect strong support from across the environmental, environmental justice, and clean energy communities.

If not …

In brief, what do these six words mean?

Scientifically Sound:

The IPCC benchmark, which is quite likely far too conservative (e.g., is not nearly aggressive enough), calls for the developed world to cut emissions by 2020 by 25-40 percent below 1990 levels.

Now, many people like speaking from 2005 levels as a benchmark because they are about 14 percent higher than 1990. In other words, a 25% reduction from 1990 means about a 35% reduction from 2005. (Note, we are already roughly 9 percent below 2005 levels due to (a) recession, (b) increased use of natural gas, and (c) increasing renewable (mainly wind) energy (along with some increased energy efficiency.)

(Please note that it is very clear that achieving the IPCC-type targets is not just achievable, but would strengthen the economy. The Center for Climate Strategies recently released a report showing significant economic benefits from enacting just 23 climate mitigation strategies that are already in use in states and regions across the country. These would boost the economy (2.5 million net new jobs and a $134.3 billion expansion in GDP in 2020; with a cumulative expansion in GDP of $342 billion from 2010 to 2020). Just those 23 would lead to a 27 reduction from 1990 levels by 2020. (By the way, the CCS report almost certainly understated the true benefits of action due to the limitations of the analytical approach.) Moving beyond these 23 would enable even more significant reductions in Co2 emissions with even greater economic, security, and societal benefits.))

Now, by the way, the IPCC targets are almost certainly inadequate — we should be working to finding our way toward 350 ppm ASAP, rather than looking toward stabilization at 450 ppm or 550 ppm, but we can start with the 25-40 percent reduction from 1990 levels as a reasonable basis for judging legislative action.

Polluters Pay:

A very basic element of any sensible climate policy is actually establishing a price for "carbon" (actually, any GHG) that will create economic incentives to reduce polluting. Extensive permit giveaways (especially in the near term) would simply violate what is a basic core principle. (Note: Revenues from making polluters pay certainly could be plowed back to help polluters cut their pollution (whether energy efficiency, new processes, renewables, etc). There could even be a discounted price (e.g., have "allowances" given at the "lowest" fee level) for some specific groups, but with placing some degree of costs. At the end of the day, it is fundamentally wrong to be handing over pollution permits … it is not just immoral, but it is counterproductive to the very desires to help drive down pollution levels, ASAP. While that price doesn’t have to start high, it should be building toward a reasonable definition of the social cost of carbon. (Perhaps, today, in the range of $83 per ton of emissions — even starting at $10 today and building up would give serious incentive for industry to be driving wasteful emissions out of their business practices.) (Note that President Obama’s full 2020 budget submission to Congress, last May, called for 100% auction of permits and no giveaways.)

"Polluters Pay" can be done via Cap & Trade … via a Carbon Fee (better word than "tax") … upstream or end-user … there are many paths but, at the end of the day, Polluters should start Paying for the damage that their emissions cause and Polluters should help Pay for reducing societal emissions and for the costs of adapting toward the damage that climate change is causing and will create.

NOTE: We can do many things with the Polluters’ Pay-ments: dividends; paying for climate mitigation (energy efficiency and renewable energy, biochar programs, protecting rainforests, etc …) and adaptation (building more resilient infrastructure, etc …); dividend programs; reducing payroll tax; deficit reduction (after EE/RE investments, please …); etc …

Socially Equitable:

The United States has been, for too long, on a path toward increased social inequity — with the rich getting richer and the vast majority of society stagnating if not, in fact, getting poorer. And, our pollution patterns have been most damaging on the least powerful in society (whether economic, racial, or the youngest). At a minimum, any climate legislation should not worsen either the economic or environmental inequities. More appropriately, it should reduce those inequities (one of the benefits of, at least, a partial dividend is to help address financial inequities) via ‘Green Jobs’ in and targeting assistance for addressing the pollution issues in our poorest / weakest communities as early as possible.

Told you what I’m going to tell you, tell you it, and tell you what I told you …

Very simply, here are the six words of principle that provide the basis for judging any climate legislation:

  • Scientifically Sound
  • Polluters Pay
  • Social Equity

An important NOTE: To me, the ‘structure’ might be the most critical thing. It would be acceptable (albeit it not great) if there were weak initial targets, relatively low social cost of carbon numbers, and minimal improvement in social equity terms if (IF) the structure is basically right and that the structure doesn’t inhibit relatively straightforward strengthening and improvement across all these three areas. In my (educated? informed?) opinion, once we start the ball rolling on climate mitigation, we are going to astound ourselves with how much progress we can make with high benefits (e.g., benefits are going to overwhelm costs) in no small part because the society is so inefficient in its energy use. If the structure is right, we can reinforce success.

Cancer on the Brain… and a Perspective on Health Care

A Siegel's father-in-Law in 2008
Siegel's father-in-law in 2008

My father-in-law has brain cancer. He is a good man. He is the type whose hands are (sadly too often) filled at the end of a stroll with trash he picked up on the way. He has helped others in need, whether friends (doing all too many renovation and repair projects) to strangers (a pencil portrait of my better 95+% as a child was someone-without-money’s payment for extensive dental work). He is a good man. And, the prognosis isn’t good.

Not surprisingly, my better 95+%, my mother-in-law, my other in-laws, their friends are not especially joyous about facing this.

Yet, they face it with a sort of calm that is rarely seem in America when a family faces a major medical crisis. To date, there has not been one iota of discussion about financial challenges. There is no stress of looking at check-book balances, no fearful whispers about mounting medical bills, no distress over potential financial bankruptcy, no extended phone calls with insurers battling to get a test covered or to see whether a physician in system. In fact, the only discussions of money have been comments about how ridiculously low the bills are and why it really isn’t worth the time to seek reimbursement for supplementary insurance programs.

In this stressful time, my father-in-law and my mother-in-law are absoutely free of financial tensions from medical costs.

Sadly, perhaps, for my children’s future, this isn’t due to great family wealth. (They are solidly middle class.) Nor have they unlocked the key to some super-secret executive-based insurance program.

The reason for calm is simple: my father-in-law is French. (more…)

LetterGate: Fossil Fuel Lobby Ready to Point Fingers; What About the Targeted Reps?

Amid the Bonner & Associates, Hawthorn Group, American Coalition for Clean-Coal Electricity shenanigans of falsified (fraudulent) letters, with 624856455_51ba44acee_m.jpgall implicated in LetterGate pointing fingers away from themselves, we have to ask: Do these excuses and explanations pass a basic laugh test?

A quick recap: On Friday, 31 July, news reporting came out that Bonner & Associates had sent letters on minority organization letterhead, with invented staff names, to Representative Tom Perriello (D-VA) urging a vote against the American Clean Energy & Security (ACES) Act. On 3 August, ACCCE put out a statement expressing their "outrage" that a sub-contractor would act so unethically and it came out that Hawthorn Group, an ACCCE contractor for years, was the middleman in the deal. More information came out during last week, such as that it was more than Perriello and that ACCCE had know about the fraud since no later than 24 June but had taken no action to inform anyone of it until the business day after it broke in the press … And, well, lots of excuses. . . .

So, when it comes to the laugh test, two quick examples of patterns that suggest some laughter (and, well, crying. . .).

ACCCE aggressively stated, in their public comment after this was reported in the press (six weeks after they knew about it), that, "We are outraged at the conduct of Bonner and Associates."

Okay, outraged? Yet another excellent piece by Sue Sturgis at Facing South is worth reading but, perhaps the title tells you all: "‘Clean coal’ group behind forged anti-climate bill letters tied to deceptive tactics before." As discussed there, when fighting against the Lieberman-Warner Coal-Subsidy Act, an ACCCE (actually, ABEC — just before ABEC transformed into ACCCE) employee represented ACCCE as an environmental group and denied that the group had any connection to utilities.

After publishing our story about the deceptive call, we heard from Steve Gates, ACCCE’s communication director. He blamed a new staff member who decided to "wing it" when asked some off-the-script questions and said the person was "no longer working on this project,"

Does that sound eerily familiar to the ‘it was a rogue employee’ excuse from Bonner & Associates this time around? (more…)

Republicans Reject Science; Scientists Reject Republicans

The Republican Party has a serious infection of anti-science syndrome. And, scientists have noted the The Republican War on Science. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press came out, last week, with a report 528-12.gifentitled Public Praises Science; Scientists Fault Public, Media. This is an interesting polling report, on a number of levels.

As per the title, let us focus on one item: Scientists and Party affiliation. Once, there were sizable portions of the scientific community in basically all portions of the American political scene. No longer. As can be seen in the table to the right, "Partisan and Ideological Differences", of 2500 polled scientists, just 6 percent of the polled identify themselves as Republicans (as opposed to 23 percent of the overall population).

As Stephen Colbert put it, "reality has a well-known liberal bias". (Although, perhaps it truly is that liberals have a bias toward reality?) Scientists work in, specialize in understanding reality. Should it shock anyone that they have a liberal bias?

Now, as Republicans continue to proudly flaunt their Anti-Science Syndrome (A.S.S.) suffering Haters of a Livable Economy (H.O.L.E.) credentials, this poll suggests some severe political risks of determined attacks on science and the scientific community on issues like Global Warming. (more…)

CARS Program is Actually a C.R.A.P. Program

Amid the supplemental appropriations bill (warning, 144 page pdf), currently awaiting vote after a Conference Committee, is the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) Program (pages 52-58). Naming bills in deceptive and often cutesy terms has truly become an art form. The CARS Program merits being in the same zone as the ever-so appealing sounding No Child Left Behind or Healthy Forests, an ever-so appealing name that doesn’t stand up to any serious scrutiny. To put it simply, rather than the CARS Program, this might be more appropriate called the C.R.A.P.P.: Consciously Rewarding Augmenting Pollution Program.

CARS is a program to provide incentives to drivers of old, fuel-inefficient vehicles to buy new, slightly less inefficient vehicles. Often called “cash for clunkers”, the developed legislation is structured in a way that makes it inequitable, inefficient, wasteful (on multiple levels) and (being very generous) very marginally productive re long-term interests to reduce our oil dependency and cut greenhouse gas emissions. The C.R.A.P. Program is a sad comment on special interest influence on Congress along with the inability of logical analysis to influence a program toward something more intelligent.

For background on the legislation (the Conference Committee seems to have adopted the weaker House version rather than the better, although still problemmatic, Senate version), see A Clunker of a Deal?

In short, the bill is promised to target selling 1 million more vehicles before the end of the year and support these three policy priorities:

  • Reduce dependence on foreign oil,
  • Reduce air pollution, and
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill does this via “cash for clunkers”, vouchers to owners of old vehicles to encourage them to go shopping for a new vehicle and scrap the old one. As an example, when it comes to light passenger vehicles, owners (at least one year registered) of a car rated at less than 18 miles per gallon can receive a $3500 voucher (tax free) for a new car if it gets at least 22 miles per gallon and $4500 if it gets at least 28 mpg.

Why is this a bad bill, on both basic policy and basic analytical reasons?

  1. The fuel saving requirements are absurdly low.
  2. The actual oil demand reduction per tax dollar invested is absurdly low.
  3. The bill, as structured, is overly restrictive in a counter-productive way.
  4. There is a basic question as to equity.
  5. This is structured poorly, using “mpg” which provides less visibility on impact than the better “gpm” (gallons per mile).


Frederick Soddy: Lessons from a Little-Known Crank

Amid all the insanities and "Faux and Balanced" in the major newspapers like the Washington Post and New York Times, voices of sanity slip into the discussion. Today’s New York Times has such a "slip" with a discussion likely discordant to many in the American societal view, of a complexity and perspective that falls outside the acceptable weltanschauung. But, in many ways, it is those ideas that make us uncomfortable that merit the most focused attention. With that in mind, a hope, that Eric Zencey‘s Mr. Soddy’s Ecological Economy actually gets read and discussed inside "the Village" of media interlocutors.

Zencey focuses his lens on a man that few Americans have likely heard of, "a little-regarded British chemist-turned-economist who wrote before and during the Great Depression… roundly dismissed as a crank… who carried on a quixotic campaign for a radical restructuring of global monetary relationships." He rooted his economic discussions on physics: the economy as a machine which requires energy to run. And, don’t forget the laws of thermodynamics that "forbid perpetual motion." Thus, Soddy warned of economics that treated infinite wealth creation and growth as nothing more than perpetual motion, since you can’t create something out of nothing (Silicon Valley-based internet startups aside).

Soddy — and the entire field of ecological economists — can be summarized to argue that we must be balanced, that wealth is limited and thus debt should be limited, as well, so as not to create unsustainable situations that will create, inexorably, crashes with potentially catastrophic crashes.

Remember that Soddy was "routinely dismissed as a crank" when considering his five prescriptions, amid the Great Depression, for creating a sensible global economic structure.

The first four were to abandon the gold standard, let international exchange rates float, use federal surpluses and deficits as macroeconomic policy tools that could counter cyclical trends, and establish bureaus of economic statistics (including a consumer price index) in order to facilitate this effort. All of these are now conventional practice.

Soddy’s fifth proposal, the only one that remains outside the bounds of conventional wisdom, was to stop banks from creating money (and debt) out of nothing. (more…)

The Peabody-Pickens Plan for Perpetuating Pollution


T. Boone Pickens’ efforts to convince the political leadership to invest heavily in a fundamentally flawed energy concept continue to move apace. Anyone else notice his ads following President Obama’s speech to Congress?

Superficially, Pickens’ $10s of millions (likely over $100 million now) expended on advertising, websites, and other media provide a superficially appealing concept:

  • Build wind turbines
  • Use wind electricity to displace gas-fired electricity (about 22 percent of the grid’s power)
  • Use that natural gas to replace imported oil in transportation

So simplistically appealing, with a clarity of purpose put forward by this old oil man in such a compelling manner.

The Pickens Plan has many problems, many flaws, but at the core, the worst of all might best be referred to as The Peabody-Pickens Axis for Perpetuating Pollution.

When considering the Pickens Plan, the image that might strike most is wizened T. Boone Pickens speaking simply and directly as wind turbines turn in the background. This old oil man speaking the praises of renewable energy. So refreshing, so appealing. Willing to say, directly, that "this is one problem that we can’t drill our way out of." Are we surprised that prominent Democratic Party leaders have met with and, seemingly, embraced die-hard Republican Pickens with open arms? (more…)

A W4 Solution: Insulate US from economic and climate devastation

President Obama and Congress must act to stimulate the US economy with a package of win-win-win-win (W4) elements that will:

  • Create and protect jobs throughout the nation
  • Foster economic activity that will help, through tax revenue, pay for the stimulus
  • Strengthen the nation’s economic prospects for the long-term, and
  • Help address other critical challenges: notably energy security and climate change.

Good news: such W4 options exist in abundance.

Not so good news: W4 elements are not dominating the discussions nor the money in the draft stimulus package.

Below is a W4 option that should be part of the discussion and, even better, the economic stimulus package’s financing.

Insulate the US from Economic and Climate Devastation

As discussed here, Architecture 2030 developed1570734305_37c0c1274d_m.jpgThe 2030 Challenge Stimulus Plan to create roughly nine million (yes, 9,000,000) jobs and several trillion dollars of building activity through a two-year, $192.47 billion program focused on using financial instruments to spark investment in energy efficiency in private buildings throughout the nation.

The financial instrument to stimulate action

The vast majority of the money would be spent on a housing mortgage interest rate buy-down and commercial building accelerated depreciation based on meeting energy efficiency targets. Very simply, the more efficient construction, renovation, or rehabilitation can make a building, the lower the mortgage cost for the homeowner and the depreciation for the building owner. As for a home, hit a target of carbon neutrality and the program would buy-down the 2758239198_79e037c26c_m.jpgmortgage/mortgage refinancing (with funding of the project) to just two percent. Would a two-percent (fixed, 30-year) mortgage interest you in making your home carbon neutral? A three-percent loan to make it far more energy efficient? FYI — the cost savings from the energy savings would likely pay for the costs, even without considering the lowered cost for the entire mortgage (and not just the energy efficiency upgrade costs).

In addition, while the money would spark about $1 trillion in private building energy efficiency investments, there is likely to be a much broader stimulus. How many homeowners would package the deal with needed major repairs (new roof, painting the house) or renovation (new kitchen)?

Not just mortgage financing

The plan includes elements beyond these fiscal incentives. For example, $2 billion in additional funding for training local officials and energy auditors, educational outreach programs, permitting assistance, and incentives for locally built products.

Some idea of the benefits

This truly looks to be a W4 option meriting attention:

  • Job creation: nine million new jobs (mainly in sectors hit hard in the recession, such as residential (down 37% in 2008) and commercial building construction (down 17%))
  • Tax implications: In addition to that minor little item of nine million new jobs, 2758219978_78553ec615_m.jpgthe program might just ‘pay for itself’ due to the tax base of increased economic activity.
  • Long-term impacts: The financial savings are quite strong, about $132-208 billion in energy and mortgage payment savings for consumers: in the first five years. Of course, these are savings that continue indefinitely into the future. And, this activity would spark the American building industry down a path toward far more efficient building and could spark American industry to develop energy efficient systems that could capture a global market space. Both the direct improvement in the efficiency of American use of energy and creatinga a market pull for 21st century options will improve American competitiveness for decades to come.
  • Improved Energy and Climate Security: The plan’s impact would cut US green-house gas emissions by 500+ million metric tons (about ten percent of one year’s US emissions) through five years. Energy consumption would fall by 6.5 Quadrillion Btu (US annual use is about 100 Quads), with a savings of about 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 90 million barrels of oil (4.5 days of US oil use).

My reaction at first glance a month ago: Wow!

And, as Architecture 2030 has strengthened and developed the concept my enthusiasm has simply grown. Thus, WOW!!!!

In Architecture 2030’s words

This type of stimulus investment benefits all Americans, no matter what income level or location in the country because, due to the vast number of products and services involved, the investment would be spread across the entire U.S. and across all industries. It provides an economically efficient and powerful way to simultaneously address the three major crises facing the America today: the economy, energy independence and climate change.

This sort of systems thinking and systems-of-systems’ solutions should be centerpieced in the stimulus package.

NOTE: Again, there are other W4 options to be discussed.

ACTION ITEM: This plan merits discussion at the highest levels of government. It is worth contacting your Congressman about and Stimulate the Economy through Energy Efficient Buildings is in the "Citizen’s Briefing Book" at Change.GOV. If interested, go there and vote it up/make comments for attention within the Obama Transition Team.