UCD Environmental Science Bat

Objective: For the first paper, you will be required to critically analyze both sides of an argument, i.e., both for and against. You have to identify at least two credible sources, summarize each of their arguments along with the evidence they cite, determine which argument is more credible (if both sides make valid arguments, define a compromise position), conclude with a synthesis of credible arguments and if applicable suggest some unresolved issues. The list of potential topics along with a possible angle to look at in the form of a question is provided below. You may also select a relevant topic of your choosing with prior approval from the instructor. It is highly recommended to go beyond news blogs/articles and look at peer reviewed journals, technical reports from leading think tanks/NGOs.


  • Core policy features/motivation/purpose.
  • What is the question(s) your paper is specifically focusing on

Advantages/Benefits of the Policy

  • Specific numbers that are cited in the literature to support the policy would be valuable to include.

Disadvantages/Negative Impacts of the Policy

  • Specific numbers that are cited in the literature that oppose the policy would be valuable to include.
  • Are there any undesirable consequence(s) of the policy? Are there any unintended consequences that offset the gains ,which the policy failed to anticipate or account for?
  • Was there any disconnect between the market forces/people/automakers/fuel producers/OEMs/etc. and the policy makers that caused these unintended/undesirable negative effects?
  • Did the policy have any loopholes that made it susceptible to being exploited in order to flout compliance/regulatory requirements?


In your own words, comparative assessment of both sides of the argument.

Use this section to synthesize the credible arguments (for and against)

Some questions to keep in mind : Which source(s)/arguments are backed by strong, credible numbers ; how are the sources justifying their position and how credible are those justifications; which sources(s)/counter arguments seem to be just biased or based on wildly exaggerated claims not backed by credible information, how divergent and varying some of the numbers cited in literature are , how valid are the assumptions made in the paper(s). You can also provide your own perspective or any unresolved issues on this policy.


  • Use google scholar to search for keywords and it also has a feature where you can easily export/copy the reference in standard citation format.
  • Google news is also a good option to get articles from reputable news outlets/magazines
  • For additional information on citation:

https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_works_cited_electronic_sources.html (Links to an external site.)

  • It is recommended that you use [numbers] or (Author, Date) format in the body of the paper
  • IEEE, APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard or Vancouver are all acceptable formats.
  • If you are using a URL , please make sure it is formatted properly instead of just pasting just the link as references.

Please make sure you list quality references. Peer reviewed journals, articles from reputed news outlets, reports/white papers from state/federal agencies, think tanks, or NGOs , and class readings (required and optional) are a good starting point.

Paper should be less than 4 pages single column, singlespaced including all citations/references, figures, charts, plots, tables, endnotes and footnotes, at least 1inch margin on all sides and font size at least 11. NO EXCEPTIONS OR EXEMPTIONS TO FORMATTING AND PAGE LIMITATIONS.

The paper should be submitted via Canvas in MS Word format, PDF will not be accepted. You should use relevant required readings as a starting point, but must utilize additional sources identified independently (with guidance available from the instructor and TAs). Citations/references should strictly adhere to commonly used formats such as APA, Chicago, Harvard etc. We strongly recommended using a citation manager like Mendeley, Zotero. All references must be included in the body of text in numeric or author/year format and the detailed citation should be provided at the end of the paper. .

List of Pre-Approved Topics

  • Net impact of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) and GHG Standards on vehicle
    safety and GHG emissions and petroleum consumption.
  • Relative advantages of zero emission vehicle mandates vs GHG performance standards vs
    high fuel prices/taxes?
  • Relative advantages and disadvantages of federal renewable fuel standards (RFS) vs
    California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standards (LCFS) policy.
  • Does the United States provide too little or too much subsidies for public transit usage?
  • Are rebates and subsidies for plugin electric vehicles (PEVs) an effective use of public
  • SF case study (or other): Was overbuilding of freeways in cities due to racism?
  • In what ways has the SB 375 law been effective, and which ways ineffective?
  • Discuss the impacts of vehicle automation and connected technologies on
    energy/environment, safety/traffic congestion, and/or VMT & car ownership
  • Has the law providing decals for clean air vehicles to drive on HOV/carpool lanes been
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of California’s highspeed rail project? Should the
    state continue to pursue the project, why or why not?
  • Are battery electric vehicles better for the environment? Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles?
  • Are new mobility modes such as ebikes and escooters a net positive or a net negative for
  • How will trends in vehicle size and type (cars vs SUVs) affect California’s climate goals?
  • Is SB375 a success or a failure? What are the prospects for it going forward?
  • How are Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Lyft or Uber changing mobility?
    Is VMT increasing? What policies can be developed to encourage the use of public transit
    services and active modes in coordination with TNC use? Analyze how TNC use is changing
    the way we think about personal mobility.