Written Debate Assignment


The small city of Waynesville, Texas, has been identified as a candidate for hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”). Fracking is defined by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as an “oil and gas well development process that typically involves injecting water, sand, and chemicals under high pressure into a bedrock formation via the well. This process is intended to create new fractures in the rock as well as increase the size, extent, and connectivity of existing fractures.” The result of this process increases gas or oil flow in low-permeability rocks, aiding extraction. Amid worries of disruption to the small town life afforded by the citizens of Waynesville, and concern for environmental impacts, the city council is considering a ban on fracking within city limits. To aid in their decision, they have sought the opinion of members of the community and experts alike.

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Your job will be to debate the following motion: The city of Waynesville should not impose a ban on fracking .

Now, choose one of these possible roles (related to your pro- or anti- ban assignment) :

Possible Roles:

Local resident

Geologist Farmer/land owner

Climate scientist

Local Congressional representative

Local business owner

Member of environmental group

Public health official

Oil company executive

Hydrologist Mayor of the town


Writing Assignment – For a more comprehensive evaluation, the city council has asked you to prepare a written, well-researched statement of your position on the issue. Provide a paper of 750-800 words arguing for or against fracking from the perspective of your role, addressing potential objections and arguments of the opposite side. You must cite at least 10 references in your paper and corresponding bibliography. These can include the two you used in your introductory statement. Online and print articles are both valid, but they must be reputable sources – no blog sources, un-cited web articles, or Wikipedia (though you could use some sources cited by Wikipedia). Feel free to use the extensive campus library resources or Google Scholar. The website Web of Knowledge will be especially helpful for this (and for future writing assignments in other courses).

A possible format for the Writing Assignment is outlined below. Papers do not need to follow this format, as long as they are clear and logical, but should include all of the described components.

A. Introduction -Introduce who you are, your position, why your statement should be considered, and the thesis of your argument.

B. Main Argument -Lay out your main argument, backed up by research. -Identify potential problems with your argument that might be raised by the other side, and address them.

C. Rebuttal -Identify (with sources!) and rebut a potential argument of the other side. This should be one that your role is suited to address.

D. Conclusion -Reiterate and reinforce your main points. Show how all of your points, when brought together, support your side in a logical and cohesive conclusion.

E. Bibliography -Sources cited using an appropriate citation guideline (MLA, APA, etc.).

A PDF file for the written assignment is provided below (this assignment was sent as a Canvas Announcement) last week, as well.

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