Through its work with partners and clients and in the context of our own initiatives CSE seeks outcomes that have a measurable on-the-ground impact in accelerating the transition to a sustainable economy. Throughout our 26-year history, we have demonstrated this commitment by changing the way public agency decisions are made, by protecting natural areas, and by providing economic and technical support to successful campaigns that advance community well-being.

We began as a forest conservation organization in the late 1980s working to protect forest ecosystems on federal land and promote sustainable forest practices nationwide. We later broadened our conservation focus to take on issues related to urban sprawl, fossil fuel development, mining and harmful federal subsidies. As our economics and planning expertise developed, we evolved into an environmental economics think tank that now serves business, government and non-profit clients worldwide.

2015 – Present

John Talberth in front of US Capitol Building

  • Published a comprehensive upgrade to the Genuine Progress Indicator methodology (GPI 2.0) in a leading ecological economics journal.
  • With World Resources Institute, published research on an innovative approach to allocating cost share funds and other forms of incentive payments for ecosystem services to minimize costs and maximize impact.
  • Completed a first-ever assessment of how industrial forest practices are undermining Oregon’s climate agenda.

  • Help draft model legislation for modernizing Oregon’s Forest Practices Act and a Forest Carbon Tax and Reward program to incentivize climate smart practices.
  • Published research documenting the economic toll of ocean acidification and warming and what this means for the social cost of carbon.


  • Laid the groundwork for cities to adopt fossil fuel risk bond programs to protect their finances against the costs of fossil fuel infrastructure.
  • Helped the City of Portland, Oregon, develop and implement the nation’s strongest land use laws limiting expansion of additional fossil fuel infrastructure.

2010 – 2014

Activists and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales standing with a "Break Free from Fossil Fuels" banner.

  • Worked with allies in providing vital technical support in passing the strongest land use code changes in the country, a first-of-its kind offensive strategy, to prevent new oil, gas, and coal export facilities from being built in Portland, OR.
  • Filed a first-of-a-kind challenge to the sustainability certification of Plum Creek's illegal logging in Oregon
  • Filed successful challenges to the proposed Pembina Propane Export Terminal in the City of Portland, Oregon
  • Published Genuine Progress Indicator accounts for the City of Baltimore, Maryland based on a new GPI 2.0 methodology
  • Used the Genuine Progress Indicator to demonstrate the wide ranging economic benefits of minimum wage increases, stormwater management, and climate action in Maryland


  • Provided economic analysis and technical support for efforts to protect Cook Inlet, Alaska from new fossil fuel development
  • With New York University’s Institute for Policy Integrity filed novel litigation to reform how economic analysis is conducted for the outer continental shelf oil and gas leasing program


  • Pioneered application of Maryland’s Genuine Progress Indicator to public policy by quantifying the benefits of reducing income inequality
  • Helped develop and apply new methods for quantifying the economic benefits of investing in green infrastructure solutions


  • Worked with international agencies to promote restoration of biological diversity and green industry as part of the post-2015 development agenda
  • Provided economic analysis in support of conservationists’ successful efforts to halt a road through the Izembek Wilderness in Alaska


  • Launched an international research collaboration to develop new methods for the Genuine Progress Indicator at multiple scales
  • Partnered with the Baltimore Sustainability Commission to develop a Genuine Progress Indicator as a guide to public policy and measure of economic performance.

2000 - 2009


  • Established nationwide program to monitor and challenge national forest timber sales that failed to account for damages to ecosystem services
  • Provided technical and economic analysis for non-profit groups and Alaska natives who successfully protected wilderness and coastlines from increased mining, fossil fuel development, and export terminals


  • Merged with Redefining Progress to take on management of programs on the Genuine Progress Indicator and Ecological Footprint
  • Launched an award-winning multi-lingual ecological footprint quiz that is now integrated into university curricula worldwide


  • Provided economic analysis and expert support for successful efforts to protect roadless areas and outstanding national resource waters in New Mexico.
  • Developed the nation’s first comprehensive program to monitor and administratively challenge cell towers harmful to migratory birds


  • With American Bird Conservancy won a significant legal victory requiring the Federal Communications Commission to adopt new procedures and policies protecting migratory birds from the harmful effects of communication towers.

1990 - 1999


  • Filed successful legal challenges to logging plans affecting northern spotted owls, Pacific salmon, and clean water
  • Provided mapping and technical support for conservationists’ input to President Clinton’s Northwest Forest Plan


  • Worked with a statewide coalition to develop legislative reforms to Oregon’s Forest Practices Act to curb harmful clearcutting practices
  • Led initiatives to develop map-based proposals for conservation and restoration of wildlands in the Southern Rockies


  • Filed successful litigation halting logging projects harmful to Mexican spotted owls and the northern goshawk in Arizona and New Mexico
  • Helped organize and lead a coalition of over 200 scientific, community, and religious organizations seeking an end to subsidies for harmful logging operations on federal land


  • Filed successful litigation against federal agencies whose decisions helped fuel urban sprawl in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area

1986 - 1989


  • Partnered with the National Audubon Society to create the first inventory of ancient forest habitat in the Pacific Northwest and create a network of “forest watch” citizen monitors
  • Worked with landowners and conservation groups to challenge logging projects on federal lands that undermined ecosystem services important for the economic well being of local communities


  • Helped lead successful litigation halting portions of the federal logging program in the Pacific Northwest that threatened the northern spotted owl, Pacific salmon and clean water
  • Provided technical support for federal legislation to protect and restore Pacific Northwest ancient forests