Some Climate Change, Renewable Energy References Cut In Idaho Science Standards Proposal

Feb 7, 2018

An Idaho House committee eliminated several references to human-caused climate change and renewable energy in proposed public school science standards Wednesday, but still preserved some mention of them.

One specific section lawmakers cut outlined the difference between renewable energy sources like solar and wind power and non-renewable sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear power.

They did leave in a few references to man-made climate change, which they’ve rejected the past two years, but cut several others.

Still, some lawmakers, like Rep. Sally Toone (D-Gooding), say there’s no reason to reject recommendations from a panel of some of Idaho’s best educators.

“At what point do we trust our teachers? We have great teachers and they spent thousands of hours on this document,” Toone says.

Specifically, the section the committee cut references to how different energy resources affect the environment. It reads:

Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment.

Examples of renewable energy resources could include wind energy, water behind dams, and sunlight; non-renewable energy resources are fossil fuels and atomic energy. Examples of environmental effects could include negative biological impacts of wind turbines, erosion due to deforestation, loss of habitat due to dams, loss of habitat due to surface mining, and air pollution from burning of fossil fuels. 

Despite eliminating a handful of references to climate change, Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls) says that doesn’t mean teachers can’t include them in their lesson plans.

“It can be used. Make no mistake about it, nobody, no one is preventing the content that has been presented from being used,” Ehardt says.

Rep. John McCrostie (D-Garden City) attempted to pass the standards as-is, but the motion was voted down, despite two days of overwhelming testimony from teachers, students and business groups in support of doing so.

The Senate Education Committee will now consider the plan, which they could overturn. It’s unclear when they will schedule a hearing.

Clarification: The original story said the committee preserved climate change references in the public school science standards. In fact, some of them were cut, but there are still several references to climate change left under the proposal passed by the House Education Committee.

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