Over at CAP's excellent new Wonk Room blog, Brad Johnson catches uber-regulation-foe Grover Norquist arguing that "more people will die" as a result of the increased CAFE standards signed into law by President Bush last December-- a piece of hyperbole that he summarily debunks.
Far be it from us to defend the Bush Administration's record on climate and energy issues, but in this case, a bit of legal reasoning actually stands to buttress Brad's takedown. As our own Jennifer Bradley pointed out in November after the 9th Circuit invalidated the administration's 2006 CAFE regulations for light trucks, one of the court's most significant findings dismissed NHTSA's argument that the benefits of greenhouse gas reductions would be canceled out by the safety losses from lighter, smaller (but more fuel efficient) cars. Notably, that while the administration has appealed a portion of the court's ruling, it has decidedly remained silent on the main thrust of its decision that the rules were arbitrary and capricious, including the vehicle safety canard's dismissal.
That's not to say, of course, that it's the least bit surprising that Norquist or his allies would place political talking points and their anti-regulatory policy preferences before clear scientific and legal reasoning. But it's worth noting, and recognizing that for all its (related) legal foibles in this area, the Bush administration at least gets golf claps for not caving to the most extreme and ill-informed voices.