NewsHour Extra Feature Stories
NewsHour Extra features stories can help students identify and interpret
key issues in current events. This activity anticipates one class period,
but the follow-up essay might be assigned as homework, or in another period.
Warm Up: Use
initiating questions to introduce the topic and find out how much your
Have students read NewsHour Extra's feature story and answer the questions
on the reading comprehension handout.
Use discussion questions to encourage students to think about how the
issues outlined in the story affect their lives and express and debate
can write an 500-word editorial on the topic expressing their views and
send it to NewsHour Extra [firstname.lastname@example.org]
for possible publication.
Students are graded on their answers to reading comprehension questions
and/or their editorial.
Story: New Head
of the Environmental Protection Agency, 10/29/03
1. What is the Environmental
2. What are the most important environmental issues facing the U.S.?
Questions: (click here for printout)
1. Who is Mike Leavitt?
is the new head of the EPA. He served 11 years as the governor of Utah.
Leavitt, a former insurance executive has been popular in the Republican
state, maintaining 75 percent approval ratings.
2. What do some environmental
groups say about Leavitt's record?
groups claim that Leavitt weakened environmental regulatory agencies,
allowed businesses to create their own voluntary agreements instead
of mandatory requirements, fought for roads to be built in protected
wetlands and overlooked scientific evidence.
3. Describe Leavitt's
his environmental philosophy is based on the Latin word enlibra. "It
means 'to move toward balance,'" he explained. "To me, there
is an inherent human responsibility to care for the earth. But there's
also an economic imperative that we're dealing with in a global economy
to do it less expensively."
4. Who is James Jeffords?
How does he feel about President Bush's environmental policies?
James Jeffords of Vermont is on the Senate Environment and Public Works
He said: "The Bush administration is weakening the Clean Air Act,
it is weakening the Clean Water Act and it is not cleaning up Superfund
sites. We have a right to know why. There are life and death issues."
5. Why did Senator
Hillary Clinton change her mind about voting for Leavitt?
Sen. Hilary Rodham
Clinton (D-N.Y.) used the hearings to criticize the EPA for not warning
about potentially hazardous conditions at the World Trade Center site
following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
the vote on Tuesday, Clinton said she would vote for Leavitt's confirmation
after receiving a letter from the president's council saying it would
offer additional measures to protect New York City residents.
6. What is the EPA? Who started it? When?
The EPA has been
the center of controversy since its inception in 1970. Growing public
concern for the environment led President Nixon and Congress to create
an agency to repair some of the environmental damage that had been plaguing
the nation for years.
7. What are the top
priorities for the new EPA administrator?
A top priority
for the new administrator will be the "Clear Skies" proposal,
which allows companies who emit pollution to buy clean air credits from
other companies. Another is "New Source Review" which allows
many of the nations' coal-burning power plants to modernize without
adding expensive new pollution controls. The policy modifies the federal
Clean Air Act of 1977 that made anti-pollution devices mandatory any
time a plant upgraded.
(more research might be needed):
1. Does Mike Leavitt
sound like a good leader for the EPA? Why or why not?
2. If you were in
charge of the EPA, what issues would you focus on? How would you decide
which issues are most important and what positions the EPA should take?
Write a 300-500 word essay on any of these topics providing clear examples.
Send your completed editorial to NewsHour Extra [email@example.com].
Exceptional essays might be published on our Web site.