This type of topic.
Resolutions for debate are often designed to have embedded clash in them, especially in areas where the literature does not necessarily reflect a distinction between the two values posited by the topic. In this case, the values are “protecting the environment” and “increasing energy production”.
Specifically, the clash generated by the topic is that the affirmative must defend prioritizing an increase in energy production over environmental protection.
As any saavy negative debater knows, the affirmative must defend every word in the resolution. On this type of forced-clash-of-values topic, one word that tempts negative debaters is the term “prioritize”.
What the case argues.
Negatives will sometimes argue that rather than prioritizing one value over the other, the judge should endorse them both equally. Since the affirmative is obliged to prove one over the other, an equal endorsement of both seems like a logical middle ground right?
Why this case-style is poor.
When a case is centered around this analysis, it artificially handicaps the type of arguments they can make.
First, it largely concedes their case, perceptually if not actually. The thesis of the affirmative is left largely untouched (that new energies will be effective, have benefits, etc), and most of the literature that the affirmative will deploy to prove prioritization will be more effective than yours (and that’s if you can find evidence advocating balance in the first place…) Simply put, moderates don’t write polemics, so the middle-of-the-road approach is less than persuasive.
Second, it creates logical inconsistencies with other, more effective 1NC strategies. You can’t argue new energies will be harmful to the environment…and then argue that we should balance those with environmental protection. Or that increases continue overconsumption….but we should continue increasing.
Both of these reasons serve to destroy the perception - the ethos - of a negative making these arguments.
Salvaging this argument?
Rather than developing this argument as a full-blown contention on case, this argument can be deployed as a last-line “even if” argument during the 2NC.
It should never become an entire contention of a case, but it can still have some utility in a debate. The negative should strategically deploy the argument as refutation later in the debate, where it is likely to get dropped.
Specifically, when refuting the affirmative’s prioritization arguments, the negative should do the normal amount of work and read their blocks, but at the end argue something like this:
“even if they win a reason to focus on energy production, they have no unique reason this should take precedence over the environment. At best, their argument becomes a justification for weighing them both equally, not for prioritizing production over protection. This middle ground approach warrants a negative ballot because the affirmative must advocate the prioritization of production over protection.”
Short, sweet, to the point.
If the affirmative’s summary speaker fails to refute this argument, the negative summer speaker can briefly extend it as a deadly weapon; suddenly, the affirmative is “at best” a reason for equal weighing. This characterization and framing through the 2NR might just be sufficient to tip the scales of some judges into favoring a negative ballot.
Going for this argument.
If you’re going to go for this argument in the summary / Final Focus, its important that you deploy it correctly. When explaining this argument, do so as a way of framing the entire affirmative’s case. Do so at the top of the speech, and explain that the affirmative has conceded your framing of the case, which shapes how the judge evaluates their arguments. Even if they win every one of their arguments, those only go far enough to prove a balance, not a prioritization, which warrants a negative ballot. Every single time, (briefly) explain why this argument warrants a negative ballot.