In this lesson, students explore President Barack Obama's policy on offshore oil
exploration. They will examine the costs and benefits of this policy. Then
they will role-play interested advocacy groups to develop a public policy for
offshore oil exploration.
On March 31, 2010, President Barack Obama announced a plan to open up significant
portions of U.S. coastal waters to offshore oil exploration. Separate Executive
and Congressional moratoriums had been in place in since 1990. In 2008, President
Bush tried to lift the Executive Moratorium, but Congress would not pass key legislation
that would enable this action. Since then, gasoline prices have continued to increase.
In addition, with the expanding economies of India and China global crude oil
supplies are set to decline. New fears of U.S. dependency on foreign oil and the
slump in the U.S. economy have caused many to call for lifting the ban on offshore
exploration. Public opinion polls show that most Americans favor the idea. With
the battle for passing health care over, Congress and the president are looking
for ways to work together on important issues. However, a major oil spill off
the Louisiana coast greatly complicates the proposal.
Before class, put up four small signs with
the following policy positions in four corners of the classroom.
clean energy sources. Don't open up offshore drilling. Reduce use of coal and
imported oil, no matter what the cost.
- Develop a comprehensive
energy plan that includes expanding use of fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and developing
new, clean energy sources.
- Explore and drill only in currently designated
areas to avoid further damage to the environment.
- Drill, Baby, Drill!
We should be drilling for our own oil instead of buying it from other countres.
students arrive in class, review each of the four signs with them. Then have them
stand in front of the sign that they agree with most. Have them explain their
reasons for their position. Record the number of students in standing by each
sign and some of their reasons on the front board or overhead. Save this information
for later in the lesson and if possible, leave the four signs up on the walls.
Lesson, Part 1: Obama's offshore drilling plan and reaction.
students that they will review President Obama's recent announcement to open up
new areas for offshore drilling of oil and explore the reasons behind this plan.
They will also hear from supporters and critics of this plan. Then they will assume
various players in the controversy and hold a policy writing session to deliberate
and create a policy for offshore oil exploration.
Divide student into pairs
to view the video segments here
(Viewing the video news segments and filling out the graphic organizers could
be assigned as homework prior to conducting this lesson.)
Obama's Off-shore Oil Drilling Proposal"
Eyes Energy Development in Drilling Plan" to students to take notes on
the video segment.
After students have filled out the handouts, debrief
this activity with the class by discussing the following questions:
Main Activity, Part 2: Policy Deliberation
is there a concern about opening up areas for offshore oil exploration and drilling?
Why do some proponents of offshore drilling believe President Obama 's proposal
is a sound one?
- Do you think President Obama "flip-flopped" from
his statements during the presidential campaign when he recently announced he
was opening up offshore drilling? Explain.
- Why does Interior Secretary Ken
Salazar believe this is a sound policy?
- What are the concerns of Maryland Senator
Tell students that this next activity exemplifies, in
a very simplified format, the process project planners and policy makers go through
to address important issues. Tell students in this activity they will be role-playing
interested parties who seek to find a workable solution for offshore oil drilling
Divide students into groups of six. Distribute the handout "Issues
Surrounding Offshore Oil Drilling." Assign the following roles and give each
group some time to meet and discuss their positions. If more time allows, you
can have students research these positions in greater detail.
- An advocate for energy independence
- A consumer concerned
about the high price of gasoline
- A traditional energy user who feels renewable
resources aren't enough and aren't ready
- An anti-oil activist arguing
oil companies already have enough leases to increase domestic production
environmentalist worried about oil spills
- An renewable energy advocate
Procedures" handout to students and review the procedures as well as the stakeholder,
forms. Answer any questions that may come up.
Have each group proceed
through the activity to develop their agreements. If time permits, have each group
present their options to the entire class.
Then have students individually
complete the agreement
Debrief: Now ask students
to think about the opening activity and the policy positions they took on the
four propositions. With the four signs in the four corners of the room, ask students
to stand near the position they now agree with most. Check with students to see
if any changed their positions and their reasons why (or why not.)
Assess student work on the following areas:
- Cooperation and
participation in group activities
- Completed graphic organizers
completion of the Agreement Form
- Students who disagree with the policy
group's final agreement could write up a paragraph explaining their disagreement
with the policy group and suggest a policy they feel is better.
Have students research more about concerns behind offshore oil exploration and
develop information posters advocating different viewpoints. This activity can
be extended to having students produce an "energy forum" where students
present different policies on energy production. This activity can also be integrated
into science classes studying energy production.
Does the recent oil spill
off the in the Gulf Coast change your student's perspective on offshore drilling?