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Professor Melissa Powers on Coal Transition

September 06, 2018

  • Law Professor Melissa Powers
    Copyright, Steve Hambuchen

Lewis & Clark Law professor and director of the Green Energy Institute Melissa Powers recently shared her research on coal transition. She spoke at a workshop at Kangwon National University which focused on South Korea’s efforts to reduce its use of coal-fired electricity. 

Her presentation discussed the rapid decline of coal-fired power in the United States. She shared her research noting that a combination of legal reforms (particularly under the Obama Administration) and market changes (particularly increased natural gas development and use) led to a deep dive in coal use in the U.S.

Powers noted that the United States now faces the challenge of preventing more natural gas “lock-in” through new infrastructure development and the need to quickly transition away from fossil fuels entirely.

“While focusing on coal is important,” she said, “policymakers need to be careful to avoid creating new problems by switching out one fossil fuel for another.”

Power’s research on the coal transition will be published in an upcoming law journal.

Melissa Powers is a Jeffrey Bain Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. In 2014-2015, Powers was a Fulbright-Schuman Scholar researching Denmark and Spain’s renewable energy laws. She is also the founder and faculty director of the Green Energy Institute at Lewis & Clark Law School, an organization that designs policies to transition to a zero-carbon energy system.

Powers teaches climate change law, electricity regulation, renewable energy law, the Clean Air Act, administrative law, and torts.

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