Policy Memo

A policy memo analyzes a public policy problem and makes recommendations about how to solve that problem. It is written with a particular audience in mind- this audience is often a policymaker such as an elected official or director of a government agency, but it can also be written for an organization outside government (like Greenpeace) or for the media and general public. For this assignment, you will write a policy memo on an issue related to the topics discussed in this class: energy policy and physics. You will complete this assignment in two parts, as explained below. PART 1: Identify and summarize the topic of your policy memo. Choose a science &/or energy policy issue related to physics that interests you. The topic of your memo is very important, so do some research and think carefully about it. You should choose a specific issue that is of interest to you, that you can understand, that you can find adequate information about, and that is actually a question with different possible answers. For example, should we drill for oil off the shore of Florida? Should the EPA set CO2 emissions limits? Should Japan re-start nuclear power plants? Should power companies pay wholesale or retail rates to buy solar power from customers? Should Amazon cover all of its warehouses in solar panels? For this part of the assignment, you need to cite one source of information on this topic. This source can be a newspaper article, radio interview, or credible internet source. Some possible sources are listed below. For the actual written memo (Part II), you will need to use a broader and deeper range of sources. You also need to determine who your audience will be. There are at least two considerations. First, who will be interested in your topic, and who might be able to act on the recommendations that you make? Second, do you plan to write your memo for a layperson or for someone with technical knowledge? For example, if your topic is a matter that could be resolved through legislation at the state level, you could choose a state legislative body as your audience (like the Committee for…). This would involve defining technical terms and providing enough background about your topic for a person without a science background to understand. On the other hand, if your audience is an official at the Department of Energy, you would assume a better understanding of science and technical terms, which might mean writing less basic background information but a more technically advanced memo. Your audience MUST BE someone who can influence policy change–examples include: the CFO of Amazon, the Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, the Chairman of the Brazil Olympic Committee, the Director for the CA Department of water Resources. What you will turn in: A single, type-written page that includes the following information: A short summary of the topic as presented by your source and full citation of the source. A list of the chapter(s) in our book that you think the topic relates to. A first draft of the question you will answer when you write your policy memo. Who your audience will be (who are your writing to?).

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