Michael C. Powell, Member
Michael is a Member in the firm’s Energy & Environmental practice group.
He was named Maryland “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers in America® for Environmental Law and Environmental Litigation. In addition, for more than two decades, he has been named one of the Best Lawyers in America®, according to a national poll of lawyers. He has also been named a Maryland Super Lawyer®. Michael received the 2023 F. Patrick Hughes Award of Excellence from NAIOP for his work representing business interests during the drafting of Maryland’s Climate Change legislation and regulations. Michael has the highest possible rating in Martindale-Hubbell (established by peer review) and was a founding member and the first elected Chair of the Environmental Section of the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA).
Prior to joining Gordon Feinblatt, Michael served as Principal Counsel to the Maryland Department of the Environment. In this role, he was the chief environmental attorney for the state and the principal advisor to the Attorney General on environmental issues. He also served as an Assistant Attorney General advising the state, at various times, on issues involving hazardous wastes, water pollution, solid wastes, radiation control and other environmental and regulatory issues.
In 2015, Michael was appointed by Governor Larry Hogan to represent business interests on the Maryland Climate Change Commission and then reappointed by Senate President Mike Miller in 2016. He co-chairs the Mitigation Work Group of the Commission, which is developing plans to meet Maryland’s greenhouse gas targets. Michael was also recognized for his dedication to the practice of law and to his community with the 2009 Leadership in the Law award, presented by The Daily Record and received a Professional Service Award in 2011 for his pro bono work from the Maryland Fuel Fund.
Michael’s practice covers environmental law, energy law and governmental relations.
Michael’s environmental work has included defending companies from governmental and third-party environmental claims, providing advice on greenhouse gas regulations and legislation, negotiating remediation agreements (including brownfield applications) on contaminated properties, advising companies on climate change developments, and negotiating the terms of environmental permits. Projects on which Michael has worked include solar energy projects; residential and commercial developments; natural gas and petroleum pipeline projects; co-generation projects; hazardous waste incinerators; waste-to-energy plants; infectious waste incinerators; waterway construction permits for developers and municipal water supply facilities; wetlands permits for developers, energy companies and mining operations; critical area approvals for developers; water appropriation and water discharge permits; landfill and other solid waste permits; permits to construct and operate air emission sources (including Title V permits and CPCN permits for energy projects); and work on air and water discharge permits for industrial and energy clients.
Michael’s energy work has included the permitting of new renewable energy projects in Maryland. He currently represents a number of coal, natural gas and solar generating stations, seeking or renewing environmental permits. He has also provided advice on rate proceedings for large energy customers and for energy producers. Michael was appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley to serve as one of the inaugural members on the Strategic Energy Investment Fund Advisory Board, which provides advice to the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) on the budgeting of funds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auctions.
Described by The Baltimore Sun as a “high-profile lobbyist representing builders and industrial interests,” Michael’s lobbying practice has included the representation of energy companies, energy customers, manufacturing interests and developers before the General Assembly. Michael has helped draft many of the most significant Maryland environmental and energy legislation, including the Maryland Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (both the original Act in 2009 and the renewal in 2015), the Maryland Electricity Restructuring Act, the Maryland Brownfields Act and statutes reforming the process for issuing environmental permits in Maryland.
Since joining Gordon Feinblatt, Michael has provided advice to Talen Energy, Honeywell, BP, FMC, Lockheed Martin, Energy Answers, AES, Alcoa, Lafarge, Lennar Incorporated, Beazer Homes USA Inc., Pulte Homes, CalAtlantic, Ryland Homes, Toll Brothers, First Energy, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, Florida Rock, American Sugar (Domino), the National Aquarium, Select Energy, Trigen Energy Corporation, the Maryland Industrial Group, the Maryland Industrial Technology Alliance, the American Chemistry Council, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, the Maryland Bankers Association, Amports and many others. Significant brownfield and remediation projects have included the redevelopment of Silver Spring (on behalf of Montgomery County), the remediation of a major asphalt refinery (on behalf of BP), the proposed Center for Marine Research (on behalf of the National Aquarium), the Carr-Lowery and Westport Power plants (Turner Development), Silo Point (Pulte), Deep Harbor (Beazer), a plant expansion for Domino Sugar, Dundalk Marine Terminal, Race Street and Swann Park (for Honeywell) and dozens more.
Because of his extensive legal background, Michael is a contributing author to the LexisNexis Practice Guide: Maryland Environmental Law.
J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 1979
B.A., with distinction, University of Virginia, 1976