Visiting Professor, University of Maine
Jeff Thaler is Visiting Professor of Energy Policy, Law & Ethics at the University of Maine in Orono and the University of Maine School of Law in Portland. He is also Assistant University Counsel for environmental, energy and sustainability projects. Professor Thaler has been developing and teaching courses on Renewable Energy Law, Energy Economics and Law, Administrative Law, and Climate Change Law and Policy.
Professor Thaler graduated magna cum laude from Williams College and from Yale Law School. He clerked for Chief Justice Vincent McKusick and Senior Associate Justice Sidney Wernick of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
Before joining the University, Professor Thaler developed over several decades a wide-ranging legal practice focusing upon environmental and energy permitting, compliance, enforcement and litigation; as well as litigation for clients with commercial, medical and legal disputes, and insurance coverage, personal injury and toxic tort problems.
For many years Professor Thaler has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America for his work in environmental and natural resources law, commercial litigation and appellate law, by Chambers USA for both his environmental and litigation practices, and by New England Super Lawyers for his environmental work. In 2010, he was elected the 3rd President of the American College of Environmental Lawyers, a prestigious organization for which he also is a founder and charter member. Professor Thaler is the 2007 recipient of the Justice Louis Scolnik Award for his many years of pro bono civil liberties litigation work. He also represented a family, pro bono, who had lost their father in the collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Professor Thaler has been permitting counsel for on-and off-shore wind projects and hydro power and wood-to-biofuel facilities, as well as many other commercial development projects; he continues as the attorney for UMaine's DeepCwind floating deepwater wind projects, and a landfill gas project. Professor Thaler is the author of Fiddling as the World Burns: How Climate Change Urgently Requires a Paradigm Shift in the Permitting of Renewable Energy Projects, 42 ENVTL. L. 1101 (2012), and the lead author of The Maine Environmental Handbook and the recent LexisNexis Treatise, Treatment of Greenhouse Gases Under the National Environmental Policy Act. He also is a founder and been Co-Chair of the Environmental and Energy Technology Council of Maine, the state's leading organization for that growing sector of Maine's economy.
In his litigation practice, Professor Thaler was trial counsel in a federal accounting case in which the jury awarded his client over $6.6 million, one of the largest such verdicts in Maine. He also has been lead trial counsel in a number of other cases resulting in seven-figure settlements, and has successfully defended many attorneys, law firms and business in state and federal courts, and served for over a decade, including as Chair, of the Maine Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on the Code of Professional Responsibility.
In 2006-07 Professor Thaler created, and has directed annually since, a nationally-unique program for Williams College students entitled Resettling Refugees in Maine, where the students each live for over three weeks with a refugee or immigrant family and work with service providers. Jeff is married to Karen Massey, and has two sons, Greg and Kai.
- In the Public Trust: Climate Changed Sea Levels and Ocean Wind Power, 31 DEL. LAWYER, No. 4 (Winter 2014) [Delaware Lawyer]
Roadmap for Permitting and Leasing for Maine Offshore Wind Energy Projects and Roadmap for Permitting and Leasing Maine Marine Hydrokinetic (MHK) Power Projects, E2Teach and Maine Ocean and Wind Industry Initiative (2013) [E2Tech]
- Fiddling as the World Burns: How Climate Change Urgently Requires a Paradigm Shift in the Permitting of Renewable Energy Projects, 42 ENVTL. L. 1101 (2012). [SSRN] [PDF]
Greenhouse Gas Litigation and NEPA: A Split in the Courts, 43 TRENDS, May/June 2012. [Trends]
TREATMENT OF GREENHOUSE GASES UNDER THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT (LEXISNEXIS GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE SPECIAL PAMPHLET SERIES) (Bradley M. Marten ed., Matthew Bender 2010) (co-authored with Justin T. Till). [LexisNexis]
- Additional Publications
- Maine’s Anti-SLAPP Law: Special Protection Against Improper Lawsuits Targeting Free Speech and Petitioning, 23 ME. B.J. 32 (2008) (co-authored with John G. Osborn). [PDF]
An Attorney’s Professional Responsibility for Non-Lawyer Staff, 18 ME. B.J. 106 (2002).
THE MAINE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW HANDBOOK (ABS Consulting Gov’t Insts., 2d ed. 2002) (co-authored with Gregory M. Cunningham).
Pollution Coverage for Businesses, BUS. PROFILE, May 2000.
Are Schools Protecting Children from Harassment, 35 TRIAL 32 (1999).
The Rights of Women Subjected to Sexual Harassment, 9 TO 5 J. (1994).
To Protect a Child's Health: A Call for Teamwork in Maine, ME. FAMILY PRACS. NEWSL. (1994).
A Salute to Chief Justice Vincent L. McKusick, 8 ME. B.J. 322 (1993).
Economics vs. The Environment: Finding the Balance, PROFILE MAG., Mar. 1993.
Assessing a Toxic Tort Case, 27 TRIAL 43 (1991).
On Becoming an Advocate, HABITAT INT’L (1989).
Punishing the Innocent: The Need for Due Process and the Presumption of Innocence Prior to Trial, 1978 WIS. L. REV. 441 (1978). [HeinOnline]
Hubris Games: Analyzing Success and Failure of Large Scale Energy Projects, Energy Res. & Soc. Sci., March 2014. [Science Direct]
Ocean-Based Renewable Energy and the Public Trust Doctrine: Better Empowering the Sea to Protect Itself from the Impacts of Climate Change, 19 OCEAN & COASTAL L.J. (forthcoming Spring 2014). [SSRN]