First Takes: Tar Sands Pipelines Gets Approval, EV Batteries Get a New Life, & More

First Takes: Tar Sands Pipelines Gets Approval, EV Batteries Get a New Life, & More

'Game Over' for Climate? Tar Sands Pipeline Passes Key Hurdle On Friday, the State Department gave a key vote of approval to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a project intended to bring oil extracted from Canada's Alberta Tar Sands down to Texas for processing. According to the New York Times, the State Dept. concluded that the pipeline would have "minimal effect on the environment" -- news that would obviously come as a surprise to the participants in anongoing protest in front of the White House urging the president to veto the project, and calling the approval of the pipeline -- which could come as early as year's end -- "game over" for the climate.

GMO Corn Crops Failing to Control Pests: In news that should surprise no one who's paid any close attention to genetically modified crops in the last 20 years, it turns out that a type of beetle has developed resistance to Monsanto's GMO corn, confirming fears that target pests would evolve resistance to the natural pesticide that Monsanto incorporated into the genes of its corn product. One solution might be to back off of GMO crops and rely on millennia-old farming techniques that reduce the devastation from crop pests. Or, if you're Monsanto and Syngenta, its rival / partner in biotech crops, you race to research "how to use a medical breakthrough called RNA interference to, among other things, make crops deadly for insects to eat. If this works, a bug munching on such a plant could ingest genetic code that turns off one of its essential genes."

Electrovaya Gives EV Batteries a Second Life: Canadian firm Electrovaya announced last week that it has landed a contract to repurpose old EV batteries into a smart grid system. The project will create utility-scale energy storage systems out of batteries that no longer have enough charge to power electric vehicles -- but which still have plenty of storage capacity left in them. Given the expected boom in adoption of electric vehicles in the coming years, this kind of project goes a long way toward keeping those batteries out of landfills and giving a leg up to smart grid projects.

New Partnership to Track Impacts of Sustainability Efforts: GOLDEN, a corporate-academic research network, is announcing today that it has launched a pilot program for what could be "the world’s largest corporate sustainability research initiative." The pilot project, with Danish insurer Codan as the first corporate participant, will help Codan measure the real-world impacts of the company's CSR projects.

Kleiner Perkins Re-Learns Tech Investing: Giving more credence to our recent story on the dark days ahead for cleantech, venture capital firm that was at the head of the pack, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is "scrambling to grab a leadership role in the latest Web boom," according to the Wall Street Journal. The VCs have long been stalwart investors in cleantech companies, and their recent shift to focus on tech IPOs is part of a larger trend of lower private investment in startups working on green technology in favor of cashing in on the new web boom.

Photo courtesy of Tar Sands Action.