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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

Sarah Krakoff, Jonathan Rosenbloom, & Melissa Powers, Beyond Zero-Sum Environmentalism (forthcoming 2018). 

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

Ernest Smith, Rod Wetzel, Becky Diffen & Melissa Powers, Wind Law (Lexis 2018) (treatise updated annually).

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

Book Chapters


Zero-Sum Climate and Energy Politics Under the Trump Administration, in Beyond Zero-Sum Environmentalism (eds. Sarah Krakoff, Jonathan Rosenbloom, & Melissa Powers) (forthcoming 2018).

Strategies to Quickly Reduce Black Carbon Emissions, in Legal Pathways To Deep Decarbonization In The United States (eds. Michael Gerrard & John C. Dernbach) (forthcoming 2018).

Lessons from U.S. Biofuels Policy: The Renewable Fuels Standard’s Rocky Ride, in The Law and Policy of Biofuels (eds. Yves Le Boutillier, Annie Cowie, Paul Martin, & Heather McLeod-Kilmurray) (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 (eds. Owley & Hirokawa) (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 (eds. Ruppel & Althusmann) (2015).

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 (The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series)(ed. Richardson) (2012).

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. Bosselman, Engel, & Taylor) (2008).

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


Articles and Reports


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 and Joni Sliger).

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

Essay, Juliana v. United States and our Zero-Sum Climate System, part of a collected works, Beyond Zero-Sum Environmentalism, 47 Envtl. L. Reporter 10328 (2017).

Essay, 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).

Countdown to 2050: Sharpening Oregon’s Climate Change Tools, Green Energy Institute (co-authored by Amelia Schlusser, Andrea Lang, Celina Bonugli, and Socratesse Djemba) (2015).

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

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

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

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

Essay, Making Sustainability Count, in Rethinking Sustainable Development to Meet the Climate Change Challenge, 43 Envtl. L. Rep. 10342 (Jessica Owley & Keith Hirokawa, eds.) (2013).

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

Country Report: USA, Climate Change in the Supreme Court, 1 IUCN Academy of Environmental Law e-Journal 245 (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, 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, IUCN Academy of Environmental Law E-Journal (2010). 

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

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).