SAT Essay Prompt April 2016

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The essay gives you an opportunity to show how effectively you can read and comprehend a passage and write an essay analyzing the passage. In your essay, you should demonstrate that you have read the passage carefully, present a clear and logical analysis, and use language precisely.

Your essay must be written on the lines provided in your answer booklet except for the Planning Page of the answer booklet, you will receive no other paper on which to write. You will have enough space if you write on every line, avoid wide margins, and keep your handwriting to a reasonable size. Remember that people who are not familiar with your handwriting will read what you write. Try to write or print so that what you are writing is legible to those readers.


1. Do not write your essay in this booklet. Only what you write on the lined pages of your answer booklet will be evaluated.

2. An off-topic essay will not be evaluated.

You have fifty minutes to read the passage and write an essay in response to the prompt provided inside this booklet.

As you read the passage below, consider how David Yarnold uses

- evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.

- reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.

- stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.

Adapted from David Yarnold, "Don't Throw Bald Eagles Under the Bus." ©2013 by Politico, LLC. Originally published December 15, 2013.

1 The Interior Department has thrown our national bird, the bald eagle, under the bus.1

2 The agency charged with protecting America's natural resources issued new regulations last week that will grant wind companies 30-year permits to kill bald and golden eagles—with no real oversight of the wind industry's efforts to mitigate eagle deaths.

3 So, let's be clear: This move is all about trying to make the numbers for the rollout of renewable energy sources laid out in the president's Climate Action Plan, which mandated a doubling of renewable electricity generation by 2020.

4 That laudable plan promised that renewable power would have safeguards for conservation—but this new approach is just a blank check for the wind industry.

5 We know climate change is the single greatest threat to both birds and people.We support deploying renewable energy sources aggressively and using conventional sources more efficiently if we are to meet the challenge of our lifetime.

6 At the same time, bird mortality from wind turbines is a huge cause of concern for Audubon,2 our members and supporters. According to a 2013 peer-reviewed study, America's wind farms kill more than 573,000 birds each year, including 83,000 raptors—such as eagles, hawks and falcons.

7 That doesn't have to be. Audubon has long worked with the wind industry to incorporate the best technology and siting information to build wind farms that pose less risk to birds and other wildlife.We believe that new technologies and better siting must be combined with the necessary government oversight to ensure that the wind industry is taking every step possible to avoid unnecessary bird deaths.

8 The Interior Department has walked away from years of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy—and from conservation partners willing to work toward a win-win approach. Under current rules, wind companies are issued five-year permits for inadvertent eagle deaths.

9 Those permits require the companies to take steps to protect the birds. The new regulations extend those permits for up to 30 years.

10 While the Interior Department says that it will review wind farms every five years even under the 30-year permits, the agency in charge of doing the monitoring—the U.S. Fish andWildlife Service—told us this year it doesn't have the resources to review sites every five years. That's precisely why it asked its parent agency to extend the permitting period.

11 In fact, under the two key pieces of legislation that protect birds, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the death of a single bird without a permit is illegal. Yet, to date, the Interior Department has brought only one case against a wind-energy company. It takes more than a symbolic action to prove that there is a real environmental cop on the beat.

12 We need to learn more about the population status of eagles and about which mitigation measures are most effective to help avoid eagle fatalities in wind farms. Until we understand those key questions, what we can do is create a transparent permitting process that puts sound conservation planning at its center, while allowing room for well-planned projects to proceed so they can be part of the solution to climate change. That is good for conservation and good for the wind industry.

13 Despite considerable pressure from Audubon and other conservation organizations, the Interior Department said creating a sound process would be too hard. They wouldn't answer two simple questions: how much would it cost to actually enforce the law; and would the agency be willing to begin doing smart planning now, even with incomplete information. Both of those questions could have led to a breakthrough. Instead, we've been stonewalled.

14 The burden of protecting America's eagles now falls on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency that's dealing with steep budget cuts and, in the process, allowing more dead eagles. It's only been a few years since the magnificent bald eagle was brought back from the brink of extinction and taken off the Endangered Species List. It remains one of the great conservation achievements of the past couple of decades. To backtrack now on protections for our national symbol is irresponsible.

Write an essay in which you explain how David Yarnold builds an argument to persuade his audience that government agencies need to do more to protect eagles. In your essay, analyze how Yarnold uses one or more of the features listed in the box above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of his argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage.

Your essay should not explain whether you agree with Yarnold's claims, but rather explain how Yarnold builds an argument to persuade his audience.

1 To throw something "under the bus" refers to sacrificing an innocent victim for personal gain.

2 A national conservation group concerned with the protection of birds and their natural habitats

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