Melissa Powers

Jeffrey Bain Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law; Director, Green Energy Institute

Legal Research Center 342
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Melissa Powers is a Jeffrey Bain Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. In 2014-2015, Melissa was a Fulbright-Schuman Scholar researching Denmark and Spain’s renewable energy laws. Melissa 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.

Melissa teaches climate change law, electricity regulation, renewable energy law, the Clean Air Act, administrative law, and torts. She received the Leo Levenson Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2012. Melissa has taught several times as a visiting professor at the University of Trento, Italy. She has also visited at the University of Bologna, Italy; Kangwon National University, Republic of Korea; University of Navarra, Spain; and the University of Maine. She conducted her Fulbright-Schuman research at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Catalonia.

Melissa’s research focuses on energy reform, climate change mitigation, and pollution control. She is a co-author of the books Climate Change and the Law and Principles of Environmental Law, and several articles and book chapters focused on climate and energy law.

Melissa serves on the boards of the Northwest Environmental Defense Center and the Environmental Law Collaborative, and she is a member scholar of the Center for Progressive Reform. She also previously served as a co-chair of the Research Committee and as a Governing Board member of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law.

Melissa received her JD, magna cum laude, from Lewis & Clark Law School in 2001, and her BA in environmental sciences from the University of California at Berkeley in 1992. From 2003-2008, Melissa was a Clinical Professor at the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center, now Earthrise Law Center, the domestic environmental law clinic at Lewis & Clark.

Specialty Areas and Course Descriptions

Academic Credentials

  • JD, magna cum laude, 2001, Lewis & Clark Law School
  • BA, 1992, University of California, Berkeley


Books and Treatises

Melissa Powers, U.S. Climate Change Law and Policy (2020) (course reader).

Melissa Powers, Electricity Law and Policy (2019) (course reader).

Melissa Powers, Clean Air Act (2019) (course reader).

Beyond Zero-Sum Environmentalism (Sarah Krakoff, Melissa Powers, & Jonathon Rosenbloom, eds., 2019).

Ernest Smith, Rod Wetzel, Becky Diffen & Melissa Powers, Wind Law (Lexis 2015-2019) (treatise updated annually).

Craig Johnston & Melissa Powers, Environmental Law Concise Hornbook (2016).

Chris Wold, David Hunter & Melissa Powers, Climate Change and the Law (2d ed. 2013) (1st ed. 2009).

Susan Mandiberg & Susan Smith, Crimes Against the Environment, 2004 Update (I authored Chapters 4 and 5; Susan Mandiberg authored the remaining chapters) (2004).

Article and Book Chapters

Juliana v. United States and the Risk of “Legally Disruptive” Federal Climate Litigation (coauthored with Juliane Fry), in Environmental Law. Disrupted. (Jessica Owley & Keith Hirokawa, eds., forthcoming 2021).

Natural Gas Lock-in, 69 Kansas L. Rev. 889 (2021).

Environmental Law. Disrupted by COVID-19., 51 Envtl. L. Rep. 10509 (2021) (with Environmental Law Collaborative).

Anticompetitive Transmission Development and the Risks for Decarbonization, 49 Envtl. L. 885 (2020).

Energy Transition: Reforming Social Metabolism, in Global Climate Constitution (Jordi Jaria-Manzano & Susana Borràs, eds., 2019).

They Win, We Lose: The Consequences of the Trump Administration’s Zero-Sum Climate and Energy Politics, in Beyond Zero-Sum Environmentalism (Sarah Krakoff, Melissa Powers, & Jonathon Rosenbloom, eds., 2019).

Zero-Sum Climate and Energy Politics Under the Trump Administration, 49 Envtl. L. Rep. 10870 (2019) (adapted from They Win, We Lose book chapter above).

Black Carbon, in Legal Pathways To Deep Decarbonization In The United States (Michael Gerrard & John C. Dernbach, eds., 2019).

Case Note, Juliana v. United States: The Next Frontier in US Climate Mitigation? 27 Rev. of European, Comparative, and Intl. L. 199 (2018).

The End of Coal in the United States? 21 Envtl. Law & Pol’y 53 (2018) (Korean Law Journal).

Quick Fixes or Real Remedies? The Benefits and Limitations of Climate and Energy Fast Policy, 8 San Diego J. of Climate & Energy Pol’y 67 (2017) (with Edward Jewell & Joni Sliger).

An Inclusive Energy Transition: Expanding Low-Income Access to Clean Energy Programs, 18 N.C. J. of Law & Tech. 540 (2017).

Lessons from U.S. Biofuels Policy: The Renewable Fuels Standard’s Rocky Ride, in The Law and Policy of Biofuels (Yves Le Boutillier, Annie Cowie, Paul Martin, & Heather McLeod-Kilmurray, eds., 2016).

Is that All There Is? The Surprising Value of Unenforceable Local Climate Action Plans, in Rethinking Sustainable Development to Meet the Climate Change Challenge (Jessica Owley & Keith Hirokawa, eds., 2015).

Energy Insecurity in an Era of Fossil Fuel Abundance: The United States Experience with Hydraulic Fracturing for Unconventional Gas, in Perspectives on Energy Security and Renewable Energies in Sub-Saharan Africa: Regulatory Challenges and Practical Opportunities (Oliver C. Ruppel & Berrnd Althusmann, eds., 2015).

Facilitating The U.S. Renewable Transition: From Ad Hoc Integration to Comprehensive Reform, 6 IUCN Academy of Environmental Law e-Journal 22 (2015).

Citizen Suits in U.S. Environmental Law: An Overview and Assessment, 11 Envtl. L. & Pol’y 125 (2013).

Sustainable Energy Subsidies, 43 Envtl. L. 211 (2013).

Small is (Still) Beautiful: Designing U.S. Energy Policies to Increase Localized Renewable Energy Generation, 30 Wis. Int’l L. J 595 (2012).

United States Municipal Climate Plans: What Role Will Cities Play in Climate Change Mitigation?, in Local Climate Change Law: Environmental Regulation in Cities and other Localities (Benjamin J. Richardson, ed., 2012).

King Corn: Will the Renewable Fuel Standard Eventually End Corn Ethanol’s Reign?, 11 Vt. J. Envtl. L. 667 (2010).

The Cost of Coal: Climate Change and the End of Coal as a Source of “Cheap” Electricity, 12 U. Pa. J. Bus. L. 407 (2010).

Integrating the Clean Air Act with Cap-and-Trade, 37 Rutgers L. Rec. 150 (2010).

The New U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard: Slow Movements Towards Sustainability, 1 IUCN Academy of Environmental Law E-Journal 1 (2010).

Symposium Introduction, Greening the Grid: Building a Legal Framework for Carbon Neutrality, 39 Envtl. L. 927 (2009) (with Duncan Delano).

Land Use Regulation versus Property Rights: What Oregon’s Recent Battles Could Mean for Sustainable Governance, in Governance for Sustainability: Issues, Challenges and Successes (eds. Klaus Bosselman, Ron Engel, & Prue Taylor, eds., 2008).

Avoiding Dam Breaching Through Offsite Mitigation: NMFS’s 2000 Biological Opinion on the Columbia Basin Hydroelectric Operations, 32 Envtl. L. 241 (2002) (with Michael C. Blumm).

The Spirit of the Salmon: How the Tribal Restoration Plan Could Restore Columbia Basin Salmon, 30 Envtl. L. 867 (2000).

White Papers and Reports

The Risks of Unlimited Banked Allowances in a Cap-and-Trade Program, Green Energy Institute (2019).

Taking Charge: Developing an Effective Climate and Energy Governance Framework for Oregon, Green Energy Institute (2017) (with Amelia Schlusser, Andrea Clifford, Ed Jewell, & Joni Sliger).

The Clean Power Plan: Issues to Watch, Center for Progressive Reform (2015) (with William Buzbee, David Driesen, Kirsten Engel, Victor Flatt, Robert Glicksman, Alice Kaswan, Alexandra Klass, Thomas McGarity, & Joseph Tomain).

Countdown to 2050: Sharpening Oregon’s Climate Change Tools, Green Energy Institute (2015) (with Amelia Schlusser, Andrea Lang, Celina Bonugli, & Socratesse Djemba).

International Renewable Electricity Standards: Concept Paper, Green Energy Institute (July 2014).

Book Reviews, Short Essays, and Blogs

Electricity at 4oC, Envtl. L. Prof. Blog (forthcoming 2021).

Book Review of The Third Pillar of International Climate Change Policy: On ‘Loss and Damage’ after the Paris Agreement edited by Morten Broberg & Beatriz Martinez Romera, 10 Trans. Envtl. L. (forthcoming 2021).

Environmental Law. Disrupted., 49 Envtl. L. Rep. 10038 (2019) (part of a collected work of essays).

Book Review Review of Transnational Environmental Regulation and Governance: Purpose, Strategies and Principles by Veerle Heyvaert, 8 Trans. Envtl. L. 575 (2019).

Designing Law to Prevent Runaway Climate Change, Envtl. L. Prof. Blog (Nov. 14, 2018),

Book Review of Why Environmental Policies Fail by Jan Laitos, 7 Transnational Envtl. L. (2018).

Essay, Juliana v. United States and our Zero-Sum Climate System, 47 Envtl. L. Rep. 10328 (2017) (part of a collected work of essays), also at Envtl. L. Prof. Blog (Dec. 16, 2016),

Reforming ODOE Will Benefit Everyone, Green Energy Institute Charged Debate (Jul. 24, 2017),

Dispatches from COP22: Envisioning International Climate Policy in the Trump Era, Green Energy Institute Charged Debate (Nov. 14, 2016),

The Risks of Opting Out of the Clean Power Plan for Western States, part of a Symposium publication, Transmission and Transport of Energy in the Western U.S. and Canada: A Law and Policy Road Map, 52 Idaho L. Rev. 406 (2016) (essay).

It’s Not (All) About the Money, Green Energy Institute Charged Debate (Dec. 15, 2015),

Will More Bad Investments Follow the Failed SONGS Upgrades?, Green Energy Institute Charged Debate (Dec. 1, 2014),

The Fifth Circuit Eviscerated PURPA in Texas, Green Energy Institute Charged Debate (Sep. 23, 2014),

Making Sustainability Count, 43 Envtl. L. Rep. 10342 (2013) (part of a collected work of essays).

Country Report: USA, Climate Change in the Supreme Court, 3 IUCN Academy of Environmental Law e-Journal 245 (2012) (essay).

United States Country Report: Developments in Climate Change Law, 1 IUCN Academy of Environmental Law E-Journal (2010) (essay).