Skip to main content
Michigan State University

Environmental Studies Resources: Think Tanks

Think Tanks & Advisory Groups

Alliance to Save Energy  : Coalition of business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders that supports energy efficiency.

American Coalition for Ethanol : ACE is the grassroots voice of the U.S. ethanol industry, the nation's largest non-profit association dedicated to the use and production of ethanol. ACE members include ethanol producers, industry suppliers, associations, and individuals who care about renewable fuel. Ethanol drives economic development, adds value to agriculture, and moves our nation toward energy independence. It cleans America's air and offers consumers a cost-effective choice at the pump. This year the U.S. ethanol industry will grow to provide more than 7 billion gallons of clean burning fuel for our country's supply. Please use this site to learn more about ethanol and its many benefits.

American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) : The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting both economic prosperity and environmental protection. ACEEE fulfills its mission by :
(1) Conducting in-depth technical and policy assessments
(2) Advising policymakers and program managers
(3) Working collaboratively with businesses, public interest groups, and other organizations
(4) Organizing conferences and workshops
(5) Publishing books, conference proceedings, and reports
(6) Educating consumers and businesses
Also check out the ACCEE's Newsletter (Grapevine Online)

American Council on Renewable Energy : Nongovernmental group that promotes renewable energy options for the production of electricity, hydrogen, and fuels, as well as for end uses.

American Land Rights Association : ALRA and its members are dedicated to the wise-use of our resources, access to our Federal lands and the protection of our private property rights.

American Lands Alliance : To protect forest, grassland, and aquatic ecosystems; preserve biological diversity; restore landscape and watershed integrity; and promote environmental justice in connection with those goals.

American Solar Energy Society : Established in 1954, the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is the non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the use of solar energy, energy efficiency, and other sustainable technologies in the U.S.

American Wilderness Coalition : Seeks to protect America's last remaining wilderness areas and expand our National Wilderness Preservation System by providing additive resources and advocacy assistance to wilderness activists at the local, state, regional or national level. 

American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) : The American Wind Energy Association (AWEATM) promotes wind energy as a clean source of electricity for consumers around the world. AWEA is a national trade association representing wind power project developers, equipment suppliers, services providers, parts manufacturers, utilities, researchers, and others involved in the wind industry - one of the world's fastest growing energy industries.

Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas : ASPO is a network of scientists and others, having an interest in determining the date and impact of the peak and decline of the world's production of oil and gas, due to resource constraints.
Also listed under Fossil Fuel.

Carbonfund.org : Provides certified carbon offsets to help individuals, businesses and organizations reduce their carbon footprints.

Clean Water Action (Michigan) : An organization of 1.2 million members working to empower people to take action to protect America's waters, build healthy communities and to make democracy work for all of us. For 36 years Clean Water Action has succeeded in winning some of the nation's most important environmental protections through grassroots organizing, expert policy research and political advocacy focused on holding elected officials accountable to the public.

Climate Communities : A national coalition of cities and counties that lobbies and educates federal policy makers in support of local efforts to address climate change.

Consumers Energy Council of AmericaA non-profit §501(c)(3) organization based in Washington, DC, is dedicated to promoting public policy positions that advance the best interest of consumers of essential energy services.

Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund : Affiliated with Defenders of Wildlife, the Defenders Action Fund provides the wildlife conservation community with a voice in the legislative and political process.

Electric Power Supply Association : EPSA has a powerful presence on Capitol Hill, serving as a forceful advocate for the competitive power supply industry before Congress. The Association regularly testifies before Congress, briefs Members of Congress on key electricity matters affecting their constituents, provides industry leaders the opportunity to meet face to face with key Congressional leaders and delegations, and serves as a resource for senior staff professionals handling complex energy legislative issues. All of these activities keep the industry’s voice on critical legislative issues front and center on Capitol Hill.

Electricity Consumers Resource Council ; The electricity industry is being transformed. Competition is replacing monopolies. New players are emerging. New opportunities are arising for providers and consumers of energy products and services. ELCON has been a leading advocate of competitive change since 1976 -- articulating and promoting policies that increasingly make it possible for buyers and sellers of electricity to negotiate for reliable, affordable supplies in an open market.

Energy Future Council : A broad-based, nonpartisan alliance that seeks to bridge the differences among business, labor, and environmental groups and identify energy policy options with broad political support. The coalition aims to bring about changes in U.S. energy policy to address the economic, security and environmental challenges related to the production and use of fossil fuels with a compelling new vision of the economic opportunities that will be created by the transition to a new energy economy.

Environment Michigan Research and Policy Center : In 2006, Environment Michigan Research and Policy Center became the new home of Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (PIRGIM) Education Fund's environmental work, focusing exclusively on protecting Michigan's air, water and open spaces. Drawing on more than 30 years of experience, our professional staff combines independent research, practical ideas and effective educational campaigns to overcome the opposition of special interests and win real results for Michigan's environment.

Environmental and Energy Study Institute : Nonprofit provider of information services and public policy initiatives on environmentally sustainable societies.

Environmental Council of the States : The association of state environmental agencies, provides a clearinghouse of information for members and lobbies federal authorities.

Environmental Defense Fund : Environmental Defense is dedicated to protecting the environmental rights of all people, including future generations. Among these rights are clean air, clean water, healthy, nourishing food, and a flourishing ecosystem. 

Environmental Law Institute : The Environmental Law Institute makes law work for people, places, and the planet. The Institute has played a pivotal role in shaping the fields of environmental law, policy, and management, domestically and abroad. Today, we are an internationally recognized, non-partisan research and education center working to strengthen environmental protection by improving law and governance worldwide. We deliver insightful and impartial analysis to opinion makers, including government officials, environmental and business leaders, academics, members of the environmental bar, and journalists. ELI is a clearinghouse and a town hall, providing common ground for debate on important environmental issues.

Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan : In the last few years, 12 livestock factories, most of them dairies, have been built near the town of Hudson, Michigan. Large livestock operations that confine animals year-round are called Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan (ECCSCM) developed this website to provide information on the pollution and the damage CAFOs have caused in our community and its watersheds, and to promote Sustainable Alternatives (buy local food & pasture-based meat--see sources). As family farmers and neighbors, we believe agriculture must take responsibility for its actions in rural communities. CAFOs have failed us. They have damaged our farming communities, degraded our natural resources, and polluted our watersheds.

Geothermal Resources Council 

Global Footprint Network : An international think tank working to advance sustainability through use of the Ecological Footprint, a resource accounting tool that measures how much nature we have, how much we use and who uses what. By making ecological limits central to decision-making, we are working to end Overshoot and create a society where all people can live well, within the means of one planet. In addition to explaining the data and methods behind footprint science, it allows one to calculate individual, business, city, or country ecological footprints.

Greenpeace : Greenpeace proves every day that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things. It was a group of thoughtful, committed citizens that came together in 1971 to create Greenpeace. A handful of determined activists leased a small fishing vessel, called the Phyllis Cormack, and set sail from Vancouver for Amchitka Island in Alaska. Their mission was to protest U.S. nuclear testing off the coast of Alaska with a brave act of defiance: to place themselves in harm’s way. Despite being intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard, these daring activists sailed into history by bringing worldwide attention to the dangers of nuclear testing.
Our Work : That was more than 30 years ago, and in that time, Greenpeace has indeed changed the world, and we continue to make the world a better place. Our committed activists and supporters have come together to ban commercial whaling, convince the world’s leaders to stop nuclear testing, protect Antarctica, and so much more. Today, we have grown from a small group of dedicated activists to an international organization with offices in more than 30 countries. But our spirit and our mission remain the same. Our fight to save the planet has grown more serious – the threat of global warming, destruction of ancient forests, deterioration of our oceans, and the threat of a nuclear disaster loom large. Greenpeace is actively working to address these and other threats.

The International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) : The International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) is the only global network of environmental compliance and enforcement practitioners dedicated to raising awareness of compliance and enforcement; developing networks for enforcement cooperation; and strengthening capacity to implement and enforce environmental requirements. INECE communicates that environmental compliance and enforcement play a fundamental role in building the foundation for the rule of law, good governance, and sustainable development.

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) : Mandated by governments worldwide, IRENA aims at becoming the main driving force in promoting a rapid transition towards the widespread and sustainable use of renewable energy on a global scale. Acting as the global voice for renewable energies, IRENA will provide practical advice and support for both industrialised and developing countries, help them improve their regulatory frameworks and build capacity. 

League of Conservation Voters ; The political voice of the national environmental movement and the only organization devoted full-time to shaping a pro-environment Congress and White House. 

Lone Tree Council : Saginaw-based environmental action group.

Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation : A website dedicated to helping Michigan's citizens protect one of our most valuable natural resources: our communities' water supplies.

Michigan Environmental Council : The MEC provides a collective voice for the environment at the local, state and federal levels. Working with our 75 member groups and their collective membership of nearly 200,000 residents, MEC is addressing the primary assaults on Michigan’s environment; promoting alternatives to urban blight and suburban sprawl; advocating for a sustainable environment and economy; protecting Michigan’s water legacy; promoting cleaner energy; and working to diminish environmental impacts on children’s health.

Michigan Invasive Plants Council : The Michigan Invasive Plant Council got underway as a direct result of the Federal Executive Order on Invasive Plants, signed by President Clinton on February 3, 1999. The group met to formally address mutual concerns about the effects of invasive plants in Michigan. MIPC adopted by-laws in January 2002 and its first Board of Directors was elected under those by-laws at the Council's first annual meeting held March 2002.

Michigan Land Use Institute : Founded in 1995 to establish an approach to economic development that strengthens communities, enhances opportunity, and protects the state's unmatched natural resources. Our mission from the beginning has been to help Michigan avoid the patterns of suburban sprawl and over-development that cause traffic congestion, pollution, loss of community, rising costs to individuals and governments, and a deteriorating quality of life.

Michigan League for Conservation Voters : A non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to passing strong environmental laws, electing environmental champions, and holding lawmakers accountable for their actions. With your help, we can make sure the right people are in office making the right decisions to protect, preserve, and maintain Michigan’s public health and spectacular natural resources.  The LCV is encouraging citizens to access the Environmental Scorecard report to see how their elected officials are performing in Lansing.  People can use the online Scorecard to find their legislators by zip code, and see a lifetime score, and scores for the current and recent sessions. The Scorecard also includes contact information for each lawmaker and links to campaign finance reports filed with the state.  The Michigan Supreme Court has recently established a track record for ruling against the environment - as justices have ruled negatively against four of the most recent cases that had “green” impacts, according to a new report. Green Gavels is Michigan LCV's new judicial accountability tool, helping Michigan citizens understand the impact our elected justices have on the protection of our land, air, water and wildlife.

Michigan Natural Shorelines Partnership
Also check out this website

Michigan Network for Children's Environmental Health : A coalition of health professionals, health-affected groups, environmental organizations, and others dedicated to a safe and less toxic world for Michigan's children. Through education, outreach, and advocacy, we work to change current policies and practices that result in exposure of children to environmental toxicants.

Michigan Recycling Coalition (MRC) : A non-profit environmental organization whose mission is: To foster effective resource use in Michigan by developing, supporting and educating a coalition of business, government, non-profit and individual members working toward the common goals of waste reduction, recycling, reuse, composting and recycled-content purchasing.

Michigan State University
Environmental Science and Policy Program
Michigan Environmental Portal

Michigan State University
Office of Campus Sustainability
Publish a newsletter called Footprints and maintains an MSUGreen e-mail distribution list

Michigan United Conservation Clubs : On November 9, 1937, ninety-two conservationists representing 35 outdoor clubs held a historic meeting at the Shiawassee Conservation Association. To protect Michigan's out-of-doors, they formed a united front for conservation and created the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. Today, MUCC is the largest statewide conservation organization in the nation, with nearly 100,000 members and more than 500 affiliated clubs. For over sixty years, MUCC has worked to accomplish our mission of Uniting Citizens to Conserve Michigan's Natural Resources and Protect OUR Outdoor Heritage. MUCC works to conserve Michigan's wildlife, fisheries, waters, forests, air, and soils by providing information, education and advocacy.

Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council : Mid-MEAC helps people transform environmental concern into action. Programs focus on River Protection, Green Transportation, Land Use, and Sustainable Practices.

National Hydropower Association Founded in 1983, the only trade association in the United States dedicated exclusively to advancing the interests of hydropower energy in North America. Located in Washington, D.C., NHA is a member-driven association that accomplishes its policy work and outreach through the initiatives of its standing committees.

National Oilheat Research Alliance : NORA is a collaborative program established by the oilheating industry to strengthen the industry by improving education and training for employees in the industry, providing customers more information, and developing new products for customers. The oilheating industry is a small fragmented industry, and NORA provided the opportunity and ability to work cooperatively for a better and stronger industry. NORA has developed world class education programs, new efficient appliances, and a strong consumer education campaign highlighting the benefits of oilheat and the need to improve efficiency. 

National Parks Conservation Association : To protect, preserve, and enhance America's National Park System for present and future generations.

National Resources Defense Council : The Natural Resources Defense Council's purpose is to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends.

Natural Gas Supply Association : NGSA represents U.S.-based producers and marketers of natural gas on issues that affect the natural gas industry, including the residential and industrial consumers who rely on the fuel for a myriad of purposes. NGSA is an advocate for the use of natural gas within a balanced national energy policy and promotes the benefits of competitive markets that operate under reasonable regulations.

Nature Conservancy : Conservation organization that works worldwide to protect ecologically sensitive land and water.

Nuclear Energy Institute : The NEI is the policy organization of the nuclear energy and technologies industry and participates in both the national and global policy-making process. NEI’s objective is to ensure the formation of policies that promote the beneficial uses of nuclear energy and technologies in the United States and around the world. 

Public Interest Group in Michigan (PIRGIM) : When consumers are cheated or the voices of ordinary citizens are drowned out by special interest lobbyists, PIRGIM speaks up and takes action. We uncover threats to public health and well-being and fight to end them, using the time-tested tools of investigative research, media exposés, grassroots organizing, advocacy and litigation. PIRGIM’s mission is to deliver persistent, result-oriented public interest activism that protects consumers, encourages a fair, sustainable economy, and fosters responsive, democratic government.

Republicans for Environmental Protection : REP America was formed in 1995 to resurrect the GOP's great conservation tradition and to restore natural resource conservation and sound environmental protection as fundamental elements of the Republican Party's vision for America." 

Rocky Mountain Institute : Nongovernmental organization that promotes market-based, integrative solutions aimed at fostering efficient and restorative use of resources. 

Sierra Club : "The purposes of the Sierra Club are to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives."

Sierra Club's Compass Blog

Society of Environmental Journalists : Also provide an extensive list of web links by topic on environmental topics.

Stanford University Global Climate and Energy Project : Long-term research effort on technologies that will permit the development of global energy systems with significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions.

State Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) : Major interest areas include: "Protecting Our Environment" and "Toxic Free Communities".

Stewardship Network : A grassroots cooperative organization working to protect, restore, and manage Michigan's natural lands and waters. It helps individuals, organizations, and businesses manage specific sites through sharing ideas, resources, and information.

Sustainable Energy Coalition : Brings together more than 60 national and state-level business, environmental,consumer, and energy policy organizations. Founded in 1992, the Coalition promotes increased federal support for Energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and reduced federal support for unsafe or polluting energy resources.

Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council : Founded in 1979, the Tip of the MItt is celebrating its 28th year as the lead organization for water resources protection in Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, and Emmet Counties. Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council speaks for our members, including full-time and seasonal residents, lake associations, and businesses. We work to maintain the environmental integrity and economic and aesthetic values of lakes, streams, wetlands, and ground water. 

Union of Concerned Scientists : The leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices. Shares information on such hot topics such as :
(1) Food and Environment
(2) Global Warming
(3) Clean Vehicles
<4) Clean Energy
(5) Invasive Species
<6) Global Security
(7) Scientific Integrity

US Fuel Cell Council : The industry association dedicated to fostering the commercialization of fuel cells in the United States. 

Wildflower Association of Michigan : A nonprofit organization founded in 1986 in Lansing, Michigan. Our mission is to promote, coordinate, and participate in education, enjoyment, science, and stewardship of native wildflowers and their habitats - including promoting public education of proper principles, ethics, and methods of landscaping with native wildflowers and associated habitats.

World Alliance for Decentralized Energy (WADE) : Nongovernmental organization that promotes worldwide deployment of on-site renewable energy, cogeneration, and energy recycling systems.

World Energy Council (WEC) : The World Energy Council is the leading global energy organization. Its mission is to promote the sustainable use and supply of all types of energy throughout the world. The site offers statistical data on energy resources and trends by country or region.

World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) : A non-profit association working towards the promotion and development of wind energy technology with members in 95 countries. Perhaps most helpful on the site are the news headlines and stories, publications on wind energy, and events listings for those interested in becoming involved with the wind energy industry. WWEA has also published an educational website dedicated to inform members about the wind energy industry.

Know another environmental think tank or advisory group that you think should be listed here.  Send an email to Jon Harrison at harris23@mail.lib.msu.edu

Michigan State University