Russian truck maker KAMAZ is working on an autonomous commercial vehicle with software developer CognitiveTechnologies. KAMAZ sees demand for unmanned vehicles for the oil and gas industries, as well as agriculture and housing. Autonomy could help reduce accidents, as truck transport accounts for over 2,000 fatalities every year in Russia. Laws must be changed in order to accommodate autonomous vehicles, and such changes are planned for 2017. Kamaz and CognitiveTechnologies plan to submit a test prototype this June, and a pilot program is slated to take place in Tatarstan. Potential investment from third parties could be as much as $180 million, with $4.5 million already set aside by the Russian government. Read more at Green Car Congress.

The US government's energy consumption is at its lowest since at least 1975. While energy usage for government facilities has been steadily declining over the last four decades, fuel use for vehicles and equipment has risen and fallen over the years, with a bit of a spike right around 2003 to 2004. Vehicles and equipment account for 62 percent of the government's energy use, with 94 percent of that being used by the Department of Defense and the Postal Service. Those two departments' fuel use declined 19 percent from the 2011 to 2013 fiscal years. Read more from the US Energy Information Administration.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is making a second attempt to introduce a bill to end the ethanol blending mandate. The bill also proposes to reform the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) by capping the ethanol blend at 10 percent and limiting blending levels for other biofuels. Called the RFS Reform Act, the bill is sponsored by Republican representatives from Virginia and Arkansas as well as Democrats from Vermont and California. The same bill failed when introduced to the house in 2013. The group feels the RFS raises agriculture and food prices, while Friends of the Earth campaigner Lukas Ross calls corn ethanol, "a widely acknowledged nightmare for our air, water and climate." RFS supporters claim it reduces greenhouse gas emissions and creates jobs. Read more at Reuters, or in the press release below.
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Bill to fix broken RFS re-introduced in House

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A bipartisan bill to reform the federal renewable fuel standard was reintroduced in the House. Sponsored by Rep. Goodlatte (R-Va.) with cosponsor support from Reps. Welch (D-Vt.), Costa (D-Calif.) and Womack (R-Ark.), the RFS Reform Act would eliminate the corn ethanol mandate, cap the maximum ethanol blend in gasoline at 10 percent, and require the cellulosic biofuel mandate to reflect actual production levels.

Friends of the Earth climate and energy campaigner Lukas Ross issued the following response:

Unless meaningful action is taken, RFS will remain an unworkable policy with disastrous side effects for the planet. Congress created this broken system and now Congress needs to fix it.

This bill should start a discussion on how to close the door on the corn ethanol mandate -- a widely acknowledged nightmare for our air, water and climate -- while leaving the door open for truly sustainable next generation cellulosic fuels.

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Friends of the Earth fights to create a more healthy and just world. Our current campaigns focus on promoting clean energy and solutions to climate change, keeping toxic and risky technologies out of the food we eat and products we use, and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who live and work near them.

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