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Energy: Michael Powelson

Michael Powelson

Director of Energy Programs, North America Region

Michael Powelson is the Director of Energy Programs for the Nature Conservancy. Michael brings the Conservancy’s scientific expertise and his own background in environmental policy to bear, working to curb the impacts of energy development on people and nature and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. Michael’s professional experience, including 14 years with the Conservancy, consists mainly of natural resources management and energy development policy work. 

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Michael In the News


Michael Powelson is the Director of Energy Programs for the North America Region of The Nature Conservancy. He has a long history of working with an array of partners on natural resources management, with a special focus on energy and public lands. Michael is the Conservancy’s lead on applying Conservancy scientific expertise to federal and state policies, legislation, and corporate practice and partnership focused on addressing the ecological impacts of energy development, and reducing GHG emissions from the energy sector. Currently he serves as the Conservancy’s lead on federal and state policies and legislation focused on energy development on public and private lands, especially oil & gas, renewables, and transmission. As the Director of the Conservancy’s North America Energy Program, Michael oversees the Conservancy’s energy work, ranging from off-shore wind in the Mid-Atlantic and shale gas, wind and coal in the Appalachians, to conserving sage grouse habitats threatened by energy development in the Intermountain West and solar development in the desert Southwest. 

Throughout his professional career Michael has principally focused on western natural resource issues, especially energy development compatible with conservation and restoration of forest health while maintaining economic viability. Michael also has been intimately involved with the Conservancy’s work on restoring ecological flow regimes at federal hydropower and storage projects, and efforts to recover listed freshwater species, especially salmon. Michael’s accomplishments include leading the Conservancy’s efforts on the development and passage of the federal Forest Landscape Restoration Act, which provides key funding for collaborative efforts to restore our federal forests, and BLM’s adoption of policies that embrace the mitigation hierarchy and compensatory mitigation in energy siting. 

Michael has worked for The Nature Conservancy for 14 years, six years as Director of Agency Relations for the Northwest and Pacific regions, followed by seven years as the Conservancy’s Director of Government Relations for the western United States. Michael also served as the Conservancy’s US Government Relations Senior Policy Advisor for USDA, USFS and NRCS and as acting North America Forest Lead in the development of the Conservancy’s North America forest priority, Restore America’s Forests. Prior to coming to the Conservancy, Michael worked for seven years as Fish & Wildlife Policy Analyst for the NW Power Planning Council and the Oregon Governor’s Office. 

Mr. Powelson is a native Oregonian, is an avid outdoorsman, went to various colleges, and lives in Portland.

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