Ideas for Teachers for March 2023

Feb 15, 2023 | Ideas For Teachers


THE STRATEGIC PETROLEUM RESERVE (SPR) is the world’s largest supply of emergency crude oil. Administered by the U.S. Department of Energy, these federally owned oil stocks are stored in massive underground salt domes (or caverns) along the Texas and Louisiana coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico.

Issue 1: Strategic Petroleum Reserve H.R.21 “Strategic Production Response Act”
U.S. Department of Energy: “Strategic Petroleum Reserve Quick Facts”
WaPo: “What Is the Strategic Oil Reserve and Can It Lower Prices?” “How the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Works” OpEd: “Tapping the Oil Reserve Is Bad Policy” “Why Is Biden Tapping the SPR and Will It Bring Lower Gas Prices?”

Issue 2: D.C. Statehood S.51 “Washington, D.C. Admission Act”
Brennan Center for Justice: “D.C. Statehood Explained” Hearing, Cato Institute Statement – “Examining D.C. Statehood” “Democracy Deferred: D.C.’s Two-Century Struggle”
League of Women Voters: “FAQs About Statehood for the People of D.C.”
Politico: “Your All-Purpose Wonk’s Guide to Why D.C. Statehood Is So Hard”


Issue 1: Strategic Petroleum Reserve

1. President Biden’s recent release of oil from the SPR succeeded in reducing the cost of gasoline for Americans. Yet the SPR has dropped to its lowest level since 1985 in less than a year. Did Biden make the right decision? Why or why not?
2. The SPR wasn’t technically designed to help the U.S. government manage the price consumers pay for gasoline, but it has been used that way by multiple administrations. Does this make it “okay” for administrations to tap into it for that purpose?
3. H.R.21 limits the drawdown of petroleum in the SPR until the Department of Energy develops a plan to increase the percentage of federal lands leased for oil and gas production. Should alternatives to oil and gas production, such as renewable energy options, also be considered as solutions? Why or why not?
4. Is releasing emergency oil reserves when there are no fuel shortages or lines at the pump worth what might come next? Is the benefit to the American public worth the risk?
5. What is your perception of President Biden’s motives for tapping the SPR to lower gas prices? Are his intentions politically motivated? Why or why not?

Issue 2: D.C. Statehood

1. How do you think the inclusion of D.C. as a state might impact the future of the country?
2. D.C. citizens pay high taxes but do not have representation in Congress. Is statehood the right solution to this problem? Why or why not?
3. If admitted, D.C. would have the highest proportion of Black residents of any state. Does this fact make D.C. statehood a civil rights issue? Why or why not?
4. What do you think? Should D.C. become a state? Explain your reasoning.
5. What are the arguments for and against D.C. statehood? Which do you believe are the strongest, and which are weaker?