25 resources available

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The EPA was formed in 1970 by President Nixon and Congress as an independent government agency to coordinate and oversee the preservation and protection of the environment. Previously, various environmental programs had been handled by different departments.

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The Environmental Defense Fund is a nonprofit advocacy group “dedicated to protecting the environmental rights of all people.” It works on issues such as air and water pollution and climate change.

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The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that publishes investigative journalism projects on issues of public concern. The center’s mission, according to its website, is to “make institutional power more transparent and accountable.”

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The nonprofit National Academies — the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering — generate and disseminate expert research and judgments on matters of science, including the social sciences. They bill themselves as “advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine.”

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The AEI describes itself as dedicated to “limited government, private enterprise, individual liberty and responsibility, vigilant and effective defense and foreign policies, political accountability and open debate.”

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Brookings is the oldest and one of the best-known of the Washington-based think tanks, tracing its origins back to 1916 and founder Robert Somers Brookings, a wealthy St. Louis businessman. Its scholars generally have very strong academic credentials.Reports from the institution and its scholars can be viewed by research programs, policy centers and research projects. They fall mainly into the categories of competitiveness, education, migration, health care or energy security.

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The Heritage Foundation, one of the nation’s best-known think tanks on the right, says its mission is to “formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”

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According to its website, FactCheck.org is a “nonpartisan, nonprofit ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” Its staff monitors factual accuracy in American politics, looking at what’s being said in TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and the like.

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The Consumer Federation of America, formed in 1968, acts on behalf of consumers through “advocacy, research, education, and service.” The group has 300 member organizations – all nonprofit, pro-consumer groups.

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The Library of Congress houses the Congressional Research Service, “the public policy research arm of the United States Congress.” The CRS performs independent, nonpartisan and objective research for members of Congress and their staffs on a nearly endless array of issues. The Librarian of Congress appoints the director of the service, which has a large, knowledgeable staff and receives a sizable budget.

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Founded in 2003 by former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, the Center for American Progress describes itself as “progressive.” Many of its experts once worked in Democratic presidential administrations or for Democrats on Capitol Hill. According to its website, the center seeks to “combine bold policy ideas with a modern communications platform to help shape the national debate, expose the hollowness of conservative governing philosophy, and challenge the media to cover the issues that truly matter.”

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The Cato Institute describes its work as broadening public-policy debate on “individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace.” For the last decade, Cato has supported Social Security reform through private accounts and championed deregulation of the drug industry. Cato was founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane, a chartered financial analyst and former vice president of Alliance Capital Management Group. Most of Cato’s funding comes from private foundations and individuals, with only a small amount from corporations.

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USA.gov calls itself “the official U.S. gateway to all government information.” The U.S. General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Communications oversees the website, which offers a library of links to government agencies, information about particular laws and regulations, and data and statistics.

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The United Nations website contains a huge amount of information that dates back to the global governing body’s inception in 1945. From the U.N. home page there are links to several of its divisions and programs.

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U.S. PIRG is the umbrella group and national advocate for 25 state Public Interest Research Groups. The citizen-funded state PIRGs work on a wide range of consumer rights issues in 47 states and Washington, D.C.

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Resources for the Future is a nonprofit environmental research organization that does not take positions or engage in advocacy. It is a good neutral source of information on environmental topics.

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RAND Corp. conducts research on issues that relate to a broad range of public policy matters. The nonprofit corporation has been operating since 1948, when it was primarily concerned with security and defense technology; it has since broadened its areas of research to include health, education, environmental and social policy.

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Public Citizen is a consumer advocacy group that was founded in 1971 by Ralph Nader, a liberal activist and later a Green Party presidential candidate. The group says it works for “openness and democratic accountability in government, for the right of consumers to seek redress in the courts; for clean, safe and sustainable energy sources; for social and economic justice in trade policies; for strong health, safety and environmental protections; and for safe, effective and affordable prescription drugs and health care.”

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This independent, nonprofit website lays out the arguments on both sides of a host of controversial issues. Its mission statement: “We promote critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship.”

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Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan organization that’s a subsidiary of the Pew Charitable Trusts, calls itself a “fact tank.” It conducts public opinion polling and social science research, and publishes reports and information on various issues through seven distinct projects.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a pro-environmental protection nonprofit. It works “to protect wildlife and wild places and to ensure a healthy environment for all life on earth,” according to its website.

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A bipartisan organization for state, commonwealth and territorial legislators and their staffs, the National Conference of State Legislatures “provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues.” The organization advocates the interests of state governments.