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Investigating Environmental Legislation
Environmental Voting Records of Legislators
- Grade level: Upper elementary and middle school.
- Subject Area: Science and social studies.
In this lesson, students use
the Internet to research their local and state legislators' voting records on environmental issues of interest. Students
can be organized into groups to research specific senators' and representatives' record on a
variety of important environmental issues. Issues might include toxic waste, oil drilling, endangered species,
habitat issues, and timber/logging on federal and state lands.
- Use the Internet to investigate their local and state legislators' record on environmental issues.
- Find specific actions related to the environment and document how local legislators voted on those
- Develop an environmental voting critique of their local and state legislators.
Materials and Resources
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some
assumptions about the hardware
and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the
LETSNet Website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons or
activities have a computer
(PC or Macintosh) with the necessary hardware components (mouse, keyboard, and
monitor) as well as software (operating system, TCP/IP software, networking or
software, e-mail and a World Wide Web client program, preferably Netscape, but
Mosaic or Lynx). In the section below, we specify any "special"
requirements for a lesson or activity (in addition to those described above)
and the level of Internet access required to do the activity.
Special hardware requirements: none.
Special software requirements: none.
Internet access: High-speed (greater than 1 MBPS via network).
Before the lesson begins, collect printed materials on law making, elections, state and local representation, and environmental law. Use books, magazines, and newspaper articles
that discuss the legislative process.
- Students collect data on the environmental voting record of their local and state legislators using the Internet resources below. Have students focus on specific actions, such as how the
House of Representatives voted on logging roads in national forests
[http://www.lcv.org/votes95/vd-timber_hr.html] or how the Senate voted on
oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
- Some students may wish to analyze environmental profiles of freshman (new) members of the 104th Congress. Have them
visit The Green Book [http://www.lcv.org/greenbook/] and ask them to
focus on legislators in their state or local community and their stance on environmental issues.
- Students should find examples of environmental problems or endangered species in their state using the Web Resources.
- Have students collect evidence, in the form of counting the votes cast for and against legislation by local and state representatives in anticipation of the next lesson in this unit.
A Website at the League of Conservation Voters.
- Endangered Species homepage
This Website at Middlebury
College focuses on "both endangered and threatened plants and
animals," and includes "the entire Endangered Species
Act of 1973 (United States), a complete, up to date list of all endangered and threatened species, and a catalog of species
which have been downlisted or taken off the list entirely (aka success stories). "
- EcoNet - Endangered Species Resources
This Website has a wealth of resources on
all aspects of endangered species, including current/pending legislation, position papers, Congressional testimony, and
starting points for Internet exploration on endangered species.
- Endangered Species in Australia: A Student's Guide
This Website contains a
complete set of resources on the study of endangered species in Australia. Includes a definition of "endangered species,"
endangered species in Australia, tips on helping save endangered species, and a quiz to test student knowledge on the topic.
- Endangered Species
University of Michigan Website. A Website dedicated to
all endangered and extinct species, with lists of species by region, images, policies, and resources for teachers on studying endangered
species in the classroom.
- Endangered Species Program
Natural Resource Center, National Wildlife Federation. This Website contains information on endangered species in the Great Lakes region.
- Endangered Species Home Pag
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Website includes a bulletin, maps of regions, contact information, policies, and guides to more information.
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