The Energy Task Force

Author: Sylvia Kniest

Time: Introduction Activity- 1 period
Part 1 (Participant Profile)- 2 periods
Part 2 (Action Plan)- 2 periods
Part 3 (Energy Proposals)- Homework
(Lobbying Session)- 30 minutes
Part 4 (Task Force Hearing)- 3 periods
Run off “Energy Task Force Introduction” and “Action Plan”; assign students to one of the eight groups listed
Materials: See the web sites listed below for student research


Students will simulate a meeting of the President’s energy task force in order to observe how energy policy may be developed with the input of various groups.

Students will be able to:
1. List the major demands facing the nation regarding energy supply.
2. Write persuasive arguments that address solutions to the growing energy demands of this country.
3. Describe the policy objectives of a group that has an interest in energy policy

National Standards For Civics and Government
I-A What is civic life? What is politics? What is government? Why are government and politics necessary? What purposes should government serve?
I-B What are the essential characteristics of limited and unlimited government?
III-A How are power and responsibility distributed, shared, and limited in the government established by the United States Constitution?

Teacher Background
This lesson builds on the previous lessons from this unit. Students should be able to draw upon previous learning to develop their energy proposals.

Resource Websites
Interest Groups for Coal Industry: http://www.affordable-energy.org/
Interest Groups for Nuclear Energy: http://www.nei.org/
National Resource Defense Council: http://www.nrdc.org/
Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/
Department of Energy: http://www.energy.gov/engine/content.do
Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works: http://epw.senate.gov/
Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources: http://energy.senate.gov/index.cfm
National Academy of Sciences: http://www.nasonline.org



INTRODUCTION- Announce to the students:
The President claims that the country is facing an energy supply crisis and has established a White House taskforce to formulate a plan. The taskforce will consist of the following members:

a) (4) Lobbyists for the coal industry
b) (4) Lobbyists for the nuclear industry
c) (4) Members of the National Resource Defense Council
d) (4) Members of the Environmental Protection Agency
e) (4) Scientist from the National Academy of Sciences (preferably Physics student)
f) (2) The Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the Department of Energy
g) (2) Members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
h) (2) Members of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources
- Adjust the number of students in each group to match the size of your class

1. After students have been assigned their roles discuss the following questions:

a) Which groups are members of the Iron Triangle? Where do they fit on the Iron Triangle— Interest Groups, Executive Branch, or Congress?
b) Which group may have the strongest influence on the adoption of the energy plan? Why?
Hand out the Energy Task Force Introduction to the students.


CONGRATULATIONS! You have been appointed to the President’s energy task force to help him/her develop a new energy policy for the country. You must consider the following information when developing your proposal:

a) In order to gain the support of the Senate, the President has included members from the Committee on Environment and Public Works and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Students from other groups may want to lobby the support of the senators from these committees to gain more persuasive power.
b) The task force must take into account findings from the National Academy of Sciences which has concluded that human activities are, "causing surface air temperature and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise." Members must also consider the president’s pledge to reinvigorate the nation’s coal industry. However, supporters of the nuclear industry claim nuclear power is cheaper to produce than electricity from oil or coal-powered plants.

Your main objective is to present a proposal to the President (the teacher) and hopefully persuade him/her to adopt your recommendation.

Part I-Participant Profile Instructions:
1. Students will research their assigned role and write a profile that includes:

a) the mission statement of their organization
b) their point of view regarding energy resources
c) discussion of current issues related to energy and/or the environment which the organization is currently dealing with

2. Students will meet with other members of their group to compare profiles and revise them if necessary.

Part 2-Project objectives and Action Plan Instructions:
1. Students will write a proposal for the President’s energy policy that forms their point of view.
2. In order to write a comprehensive proposal and make a compelling argument to the President they must follow the guidelines listed below:

a) research at least 5 primary sources: journals, books, etc. (websites should be evaluated for credibility using the guidelines provided by their Language Arts teacher).
b) Write a 1-2 page proposal that discusses the energy policy that should be adopted by the President. The plan must provide facts and supporting arguments that substantiate your point of view. In order to refute possible objections, the proposal should also include potential hazards to public health and the environment and how these harmful affects could be dealt with.
c) In preparation for writing your proposal, complete the attached action plan as you conduct your research.
d) Students will meet in their assigned groups to discuss and revise their individual action plans. Teachers should check over the action plans before allowing students to begin their project proposals.


1. What is our current level of energy consumption/demand?
2. How can we best harvest energy?
3. How efficient is your source of energy (consider the amount of usable energy that can be generated to fuel power plants)?
4. What is the potential negative impact on the environment and public health?
b) Suggest how these negative impacts could be reduced.
5. What are the financial costs for implementing this type of industry?
Suggested site: http://www.mbe.doe.gov/budget/05budget/index.htm

Part 3- Guidelines for energy proposal and persuasive speeches:
1. Energy proposals must be typed and double-spaced with 10-12 point fonts.
2. Include the information from your action plans.
3. Proposal should clearly answer the question- What energy policy should the current administration adopt and why?
4. Students may work with other members of their group if they have similar policies to prepare a persuasive speech to the President. Speeches must:

a. Include information from their persuasive research papers (written for their Language Arts class).
b. Include an introduction where they introduce themselves and the group they represent.
c. A description of their energy plan
d. Provide arguments with factual evidence that supports their plan
e. Refute possible objections to your proposals.
f. Include one visual; transparency, poster, graph, photograph, film clip, etc.
f. A bibliography must be handed in at the conclusion of your speech.

Lobbying Session:
If time allows provide time for students to try and persuade members of the Senate committees on Environment and Public Works and Energy and the members of the Energy Department to support their proposals. Remind them that it is possible for the President to combine proposals when he/she develops their energy policy. They may also want to try and find members from other groups who will speak in their favor at the energy hearing.

Part 4- The Energy Task Force Hearing:
1. The President (teacher) will call the hearing to order.
2. Members from each group will be called to the podium to present their proposal and give their persuasive speech. (The order of group presentations can be determined by random drawing)
3. After each speech the teacher will ask for discussion and debate from other members of the task force. To manage the debate, a suggestion is to allow each student to speak only once on each proposal. They may be allowed to speak a second time after everyone else has had a chance to speak.
4. At the conclusion of the hearing the President will announce his/her decision after reading over the energy proposals.

Class Discussion: Which groups have the greatest impact on policymaking? What role does each of the following groups have on legislation and public policy?

a. legislative branch/congress
b. executive branch
c. interest groups

What impact (if any) does “Joe public” have on the policy making process?

Embedded Assessment
1. Evaluation of student action plans
2. Persuasive speeches will be evaluated on:

a) Content; clear thesis (policy proposal), supporting evidence, refute arguments
b) Visual: illustrates and enhances stated arguments
c) Delivery: time (3-5 minutes), eye contact, voice projection, good preparation
d) Bibliography: includes at least 5 approved sources and is in correct MLA format.

1. Student research on energy policy
2. Written proposals and persuasive speeches

Embedded Assessment

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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