Policy Memo

Policy Issue

Wildfires are regular occurrence in California and other western states because of the Santa Ana Winds. Ten of the largest wildfires ever recorded in California have taken place since 2000, and six of the worst have occurred in 2020. Massive, fast-spreading wildfires are devastating parts of Oregon and Washington. Numerous lives have been lost and property damages total in the billions of dollars. The western states have continued to witness an ever-expanding fire season, which is coupled with related to residential development in fire-prone areas. Numerous scientific and environmental organizations have warned that frequent and severe dangers will undoubtedly continue well into the future unless the federal government takes action to curb climate change.

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The governors of California, Oregon, and Washington have maintained that climate change is the primary reason for these devasting fires and have urged the federal government to undertake action to mitigate the impact of these fires on the western states. In doing so, the governors have enlisted the assistance of environmental groups and organizations throughout the western U.S. and requesting they Congress to deal with this critically important issue

You are a policy analysis for an environmental organization named Climate Change and Environmental Justice located in San Francisco. The director of the environmental organization has asked you to prepare a short policy memo (4-5 pages) requesting Congress to take action to assist the states by passing legislation to mitigate the primary problem contributing to these devastating wildfires—climate change.

In writing your advocacy memo, you will need to address a number of questions. First, in what ways has climate change contributed to the worsening wildfire season in the western United States? Second, how has federal government policies, or lack of action, contributed to the worsening wildfire problem? Finally, what actions can be undertaken to lessen the disproportionate impact of climate change on communities of color and communities of lower income citizens?

. Given the somewhat contentious relationship with the Democratic governs of three states with President Trump over this issue of climate change, environmental organizations have been asked to send their policy advocacy memos to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Presently, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) serves as the chair of the committee and Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE) is the ranking member.


Papers are to be typed, double-spaced, and utilize an easy-to-read font-size (Times Roman 12 point preferred). Papers can be approximately four (4) five (5) pages in length. Under no circumstance may the paper be longer than 6 pages. (This does not include the title page, bibliography, or appendices.) Pages that exceed the six (6) pages will not be graded.

*****Anyone who wishes to take an opposing political viewpoint and play the role of an advocate of an organization opposed to the notion of climate change, please feel free to do so. Papers will be assessed on the quality of the arguments put forth in the memo and not the author’s ideological or political orientation.

What is a Policy Advocacy Memo?

A policy advocacy memo is a type of public policy communication that states and supports an issue position with informed arguments. The goal of policy advocacy is persuasion. First, there needs to be some policy issue where persuasion on the merits does matter. Second, a set of informed, engaged, and targeted arguments need to be communicated to policymakers in order to try and influence their policy choices.

Please note that informed arguments are ones that are substantiated sound, logical, authoritative sources. Engaging arguments give compelling examples anecdotes and are “cleverly communicated.” Finally, targeted arguments are intentionally integrated to appeal to specific ideologies. Effective arguments refer to shared beliefs and values common to the advocate’s ideology. The advocate must also inform and appeal to policymakers with somewhat compatible ideologies. The idea is to expand the number of supporters of a position by appealing to values shared by the compatible ideology.

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