Since 2007, NRDC’s Midwest program has worked to protect this important and central region from pollution and to harness its potential for a clean energy revolution. If Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin combined to form a country unto itself, it would be the fourth-largest carbon emitter on the planet. At the same time, the region’s bounties of water, sun, wind, soil, and labor resources make it especially ripe for a clean energy revolution.

We use our scientific, legal, and advocacy prowess to promote energy efficiency and new clean technologies and to fight dirty coal and tar sands oil. We helped Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, and other states to transform regional energy sectors through wind, solar, and other clean energy technologies. We defeated dirty coal projects in Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan and stopped construction of a massive new power plant and a coal refinery. And our lawsuits have forced the cleanup of dangerous refinery pollution from tar sands—the source of world’s dirtiest oil—and identified new dangers in the tar sands industry's aging pipeline system.

However, the picture isn’t complete without protecting our precious waterways. We've taken a leading role in the fight to protect the Great Lakes—which represent one-fifth of the world’s freshwater—from dangerous invasive species. We are also working to clean up the Chicago River, one of the most ignored and abused waterways in the nation. NRDC led the fight that forced regional water regulators to stop dumping untreated sewage into the river, giving the world-class city a first-world waterway.


  • Promoting renewable energy technologies, including wind and solar, to clean the region’s air, reduce its carbon footprint, and revitalize its economy
  • Shrinking the coal and tar sands industries, both of which are extremely dangerous for the environment and public health
  • Protecting the region’s waterways from pollution and invasive species



Ohio has the opportunity to achieve deep carbon reductions—getting the state far down the road for hitting the interim and final targets proposed in the Clean Power Plan.

Fact Sheet

Cutting Carbon Pollution Under the Clean Power Plan

Issue Brief

If Illinois addresses the fragmented market problems for renewable energy and the state’s budget cap that limits utility investment in energy efficiency, it can meet and surpass its clean energy standards.

Blog Post

As pipelines and trains deliver more and more tar sands crude from Canada, we can expect to see growing black mounds of toxic petcoke in communities across the nation.

Blog Post

Despite all the national attention and big talk from politicians who should share blame for the poisoning of Flint, little has been done to improve the city's core water problems.

Policy Primer

Petroleum coke, typically stored outdoors in big open piles, can blow right into nearby homes and cause serious health problems. Unsurprisingly, communities are fighting Big Oil to keep this noxious material out of their backyards.