SAT Essay Prompt from November 2018 SAT Test
As you read the passage below, consider how David Helvarg 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 Helvarg, "Lesson of Santa Barbara oilspill: Leave petroleum in the ground" ©2015 by Los Angeles Times.
1 Memorial Day marks the beginning of high beach season, but there are miles of coastline near Santa Barbara that will be out of commission this weekend thanks to a pipeline oil spill.
2 This is how most offshore oilworks: You drill miles off the coast, pump the oil onshore to be processed and pipe it along the coast. On Tuesday, an underground pipeline that runs between Gaviota and Refugio State Beach ruptured, and the oil followed gravity into a culvert and back out to sea.
3 More than 100,000 gallons of oil may have spilled, including an estimated 20,000 on the beach and in an oil slick in one of our nation's richest marine habitats. The pipeline company has apologized for the "inconvenience" all this will cause. What's particularly troubling is that compared with drilling rigs, pipelines are supposed to be the safe part of offshore oil operations.
4 California was the site of the world's first offshore drilling, from piers in Summerland in the late 19th century. By 1901, the San Jose Mercury News reported, "The whole face of the townsite is aslime with oil leakages," and Santa Barbara banned oil piers. It took the federal government more than 60 years to convince the locals that drilling technology had advanced enough that spills would be a thing of thepast. Then, in 1969, a Union Oil rig experienced a blowout and more than 3 million gallons of oil coated 35 miles of Santa Barbara County beaches sixinches thick. Seabirds, fish and mammals died in droves.
5 The sight of dying, oil-covered birds in the same year that the polluted Cuyahoga River caught fire in Cleveland gave birth to the modern environmental movement. When President Nixonmade an appearance in Santa Barbara, he was met by thousands of angry residents and the rallying cry "Get oil out!"
6 As the cleanup continues this week at Refugio State Beach, President Obama should make his own pilgrimage to the West Coast to check out the results of offshore drilling. He seems to have learned little from the BP blowout five years ago in the Gulf of Mexico. That disaster killed 11 workers and spilled 500 million gallons of oil, the resultof gross negligence on the part of BP, according to a federal court ruling. TheBP spill is still rippling through the gulf. On Wednesday, a new study reported that hundreds of bottlenose dolphins continue to die every year as a result of the spill.
7 Despite the steep costs of BP's negligence, the Obama administration proposes to open up new drilling sites along much of the Atlantic seaboard, and in the remote Arctic Ocean off Alaska,beginning in 2017.
8 Last week, in the largest citizen lobby for ocean conservation in U.S. history, nonpartisan delegations from 24 states held 163 meetings on Capitol Hill to oppose any new offshore drilling, among other issues. Along the Eastern Seaboard, more than 60 towns and cities, under Democratic and Republican leadership, have passed resolutions against oil surveys and drilling that might threaten their coastal economies and way of life.
9 On May 16 in Seattle, hundredsof protesters in kayaks surrounded Shell Oil's Arctic exploratory rig, thePolar Pioneer, hoping to keep it away from Alaska's Chukchi Sea during thebrief upcoming Arctic summer. Coast Guard Commandant Paul Zukunft has pulled nopunches about the risks of drilling and shipping in the Arctic, warning of a"black swan" incident — a disaster of historic proportion — if something like amajor oil spill were to occur, because there would be no way to effectivelyrespond to it.
10 On Wednesday, President Obamatold the graduating class at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., thatthe science on climate change is clear and U.S. national security is threatenedby global warming. What he didn't mention was the rest of the science, the partthat indicates that leaving petroleum reserves in the ground — and under the seabed — is the best way to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.
11 The 1969 oil spill in SantaBarbara galvanized a movement and effectively ended additional drilling leasesoff California's coast. The 2015 spill is a reminder that the work of thatmovement is far from finished. The dangerous prospect of offshore leases willbe a factor in the presidential primaries on the East Coast. The protestsagainst dangerous drilling for Arctic oil will continue. It's past time to "Getoil out.
Write an essay in which you explain how David Helvarg builds an argument to persuade his audience that Americans need to work fewer hours. In your essay, analyze how Marcus Stern 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 the author's claims, but rather explain how Marcus Stern builds an argument to persuade his audience.
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