CHECKING UNDER LAHOOD: Illinois Rep. Ray LaHood has accepted Obama's offer to become secretary of transportation, several publications are reporting. LaHood — a Republican who's reportedly close with both Obama and his chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel — is widely hailed as an aisle-reaching, center-leaning bipartisan. But, as The Wall Street Journal points out, his transportation cred seems a little slack. (Sources: The Washington Post, Bloomberg News, The Wall Street Journal)

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS: Following last week's rollout of his "green team," Obama today introduced his amber-waves duo: Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar as secretary of the interior and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as secretary of agriculture. "Together they will serve as guardians of the American landscape on which the health of our economy and the well-being of our families so heavily depend," Obama told reporters. (Source: CNN)

PEAK OIL DEMAND: There will be no growth in U.S. oil consumption between now and 2030, the U.S. Energy Information Administration is predicting. In addition to conservation efforts and growing interest in renewable energy, the EIA attributes the trend to an expected rebound in oil prices, which, ironically, may happen because demand is so low. (Sources: The Associated Press, The New York Times)

FINE POINTS OF THE LAW: Exxon Mobil owes the United States $6.1 million for failing to cut back on sulfur emissions at six oil refineries, federal regulators announced today. For perspective on what that means to Exxon Mobil, the company set a U.S. profits record in the third quarter of this year, netting $14.83 billion. (Sources: The Houston Chronicle, CNN Money)

BREAST PRACTICES: The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any risk of infants being exposed to environmental toxins, according to a study published this week. Public anxiety about the safety of breastfeeding was raised years ago when regulatory agencies chose breast milk as a convenient medium for measuring chemical exposure, fears that the editor-in-chief of Breastfeeding Medicine says this study should put to rest. (Source: United Press International)

CARBON DATA-ING: NASA will launch its first satellite dedicated to studying carbon dioxide in early 2009, and whatever it finds out will shape climate change policies and carbon trading around the world. By measuring columns of CO2 from above, the craft will try to suss out how much and why CO2 concentrations vary in different parts of the world. (Source: Greentech Media

— Russell McLendon

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