Background and Context

These education and debate topics will help students develop a thorough understanding of Energy & Environment and make connections between historical events, current conversations, and current policy proposals surrounding the issue. This section includes all of the context and content previously included in Close Up’s public policy chapters.  


U.S. Energy and Environmental Policy in Historical Context

How has U.S. Energy and Environmental Policy changed throughout our history? Learn More >

U.S. Energy and Environmental Policy in Current Context

What is the current U.S. Energy and Environmental Policy? Learn More >

Climate Change

Available for Middle & High School

How should the United States work to combat climate change? Learn More >

Current Issue Debates

Current Issue Debates are framed by a central question and followed by historical context, an overview of both sides of the topic, and discussion questions to facilitate deliberation in the classroom.


Climate Resilience

Available for Middle & High School

Should the federal government provide funds for local governments to respond to the effects of climate change? Learn More >

The Green New Deal

Available for Middle & High School

Should legislators prioritize environmental justice when confronting climate change? Learn More >

Nuclear Power

Available for Middle & High School

Should the United States encourage the development of nuclear power? Learn More >

Gas-Powered Vehicle Bans

Available for Middle & High School

Should states ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles? Learn More >

Videos from Policy Makers

Brought to you by ASP HOMEROOM, through a collaboration between Close Up Foundation and A Starting Point, these supplemental videos are an introduction to policy areas that provide an opportunity for students to hear different perspectives directly from lawmakers about energy and the environment.


Climate Change & Extreme Weather

Congressmen Sean Casten (D-IL) & Don Bacon (R-NE)
June 9, 2021

The Keystone XL Pipeline

Congressmen Dusty Johnson (R-SD) & Jared Huffman (D-CA)
February 2, 2021


Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) & Congressman David Rouzer (R-NC)
May 13, 2021

Lesson Plans

These ready-to-use lesson plans can be utilized in conjunction with any of our resources to enhance the quality of student discourse in the classroom. Our supplemental Civic Readiness Guide provides a recommended lesson plan sequence for using our Current Issues resources.


Additional & Archived Resources on Energy & Environment


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The Debate About Urban (Re)Design in the United States

Post | February 1, 2024

Amidst the mosaic of national debates surrounding climate change, economic justice, and public health, there is a growing focus on the intersection of these issues and the design of our communities. The overwhelming majority of U.S. households own at least one vehicle, and the number of vehicles registered in the United States has continued to […]

U.S. Foreign Policy Decisions in the Israel-Hamas Conflict: Part 2

Post | November 29, 2023

As part of our ongoing series centered on the Israel-Hamas conflict, this post will review the U.S. foreign policy decisions. Part 1 of the series focused on the effects of the conflict within U.S. borders and the rise of antisemitism and Islamophobia. To complete the series, Part 3 in the coming week will review how […]


The Israel-Hamas War

Post | October 18, 2023

The Hamas Attack Launches On the morning of October 7, 2023, the militant Palestinian nationalist group Hamas unleashed an unprecedented terrorist attack against Israel. Over 5,000 rockets launched from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip (one of two semi-autonomous regions of Israel designated for Palestinian residents). These rocket attacks were immediately followed by thousands of Hamas fighters […]

Climate Emergency: Wildfires

Post | September 8, 2023

The summer of 2023 saw record-breaking temperatures across the United States and a global average temperature hotter than any time in the past 120,000 years.1 Along with the heat, regions across the globe—including 33 U.S. states—are experiencing drought conditions.2 The combination of severe heat and drought creates ideal conditions for wildfires. In June and July, […]

Revisiting Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” Speech

Post | March 8, 2023

On February 18, the Carter Center released a statement saying that former President Jimmy Carter had opted to spend “his remaining time at home” following a number of hospital stays and declining health.1 News of the 98-year-old former president’s condition has brought an outpouring of support and renewed attention to his life and legacy as […]

Public Parks and Community Green Spaces

Post | June 1, 2022

In an interactive photo essay for the New York Times, journalists Ruth Fremson and Audra D. S. Burch celebrate what would have been the 200th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted, the renowned 19th-century landscape architect. By showcasing photos of people enjoying themselves in his creations—such as New York City’s Central Park, the Emerald Necklace in […]

Another Hot One: 2021

Post | January 18, 2022

It’s official: 2021 was either the fifth or sixth hottest year on record, depending on who you ask. On January 13, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued reports saying that 2021 was the sixth hottest year ever recorded, going back to when record-keeping began in 1880.1 Earlierin the week, the Copernicus […]

Build Back Better Stalls, Maybe for Good

Post | January 4, 2022

Already facing the enormous challenge of addressing spiking cases of COVID-19 due to the Omicron variant, President Joe Biden’s administration was presented with a new challenge when Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced that he would not support the $2 trillion spending plan known as Build Back Better Bill. Citing concerns over the level of spending […]

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