GOLDEN HEARING: The first of Obama's green team nominees began facing congressional scrutiny today, beginning with energy secretary-designate Steven Chu. America's favorite physicist took a heavy dose of praise and appeased skeptics by softening his earlier statements on coal, gas prices and nuclear power. The New York Times put it best: "Physics met politics at the confirmation hearing Tuesday for Steven Chu ... and the physics bent a bit." While Chu may not have sold out exactly — he faced only "gentle questioning," according to The Los Angeles Times — he did say he favors more research into "clean coal," despite having famously called coal his "worst nightmare." Meanwhile, secretary of state designate Hillary Clinton also faced a Senate confirmation hearing today, saying Obama will lead "a global and coordinated response" against climate change, emphasizing the phenomenon as a security threat. Tomorrow's confirmation hearings include: Lisa Jackson (EPA), Nancy Sutley (Council on Environmental Quality), Tom Vilsack (USDA) and Ray LaHood (DOT). See the full schedule of confirmation hearings here. (Sources: The NY Times, ReutersThe LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, Agence France-Presse, DemConWatch)

READY ON DAY ONE: Obama's commitment to fighting global warming will be tested on his first day in office, Reuters reports today, highlighting the amount of work to be done — and, in the case of the Bush administration's "midnight regulations," undone. (Source: Reuters)   

OILY BIRD GETS THE WORM: The CEO of ConocoPhillips warned today against getting too excited about renewable power sources, urging Americans to "be realistic about the cost of green energy." This comes less than a week after Exxon Mobil's CEO warned that doubling alternative energy production in three years would be "challenging." With Obama days away from taking office, Big Oil is "seeking a seat at the table as a new energy policy is crafted," the Associated Press reports. (Source: AP, Reuters)

SEARCH AND DESTROY: Following The Times of London's recent report that a Google search requires CO2 emissions equivalent to boiling a tea kettle, Google is fighting back. The search-engine behemoth responds on its blog that because its searches are so fast, they only require as much energy as the human body burns in 10 seconds. In fact, the study's author says he didn't mention Google specifically, just that it takes an average of 20 milligrams of CO2 to visit a website. The Times hasn't issued a clarification, though. (Sources: The TimesU.S. News & World ReportGoogle)

STREAM ENGINE: A scientist from the University of Michigan has developed a new technology to generate electricity from slow-moving water, and will employ the device next year in the Detroit River, using it to power lights on a new wharf. The technology differs from simple underwater turbines, which require heavy currents — it uses groups of cylinders perpendicular to the flow that vibrate as small eddies form around them. If the generator proves successful, it could be used to harness energy in slow-moving streams and rivers around the world. (Source: The Detroit Free Press)

Russell McLendon

Russell McLendon ( @russmclendon ) writes about humans and other wildlife.