Staff Attorney - Climate Justice Program
Nicholas is the Staff Attorney for the Climate Justice Program at the Center for Sustainable Economy. He graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law in 2009 and received his LL.M. in Law & Technology from Tilburg University, Netherlands in 2010.
Nicholas has helped to design and steward a novel environmental agenda that has set a new bar for climate action in the United States. In 2014, he worked with the non-profit Our Children’s Trust to develop the legal theories for what would become Juliana v. United States, a youth led lawsuit to establish a Constitutional right to a healthy climate and stable atmosphere. That same year, after a successful grassroots campaign to defeat the Pembina propane export facility at the Port of Portland, he helped design the nation’s first ‘No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure’ resolution in Portland, Oregon. This led to the development and unanimous city council adoption of the Fossil Fuel Terminal Zoning Amendments (“FFTZA”) in 2015, the first attempt in the United States to utilize local health and safety authority to prohibit all new and expanded fossil fuel infrastructure through municipal code. As Staff Attorney at the Center for Sustainable Economy (“CSE”), he organized a coalition of non-profits to intervene and defend the FFTZA against legal challenges, securing an important Oregon Court of Appeals ruling that the policy does not violate the Dormant Commerce Clause. This decision was recently upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court in 2018. In all of these climate and energy campaigns, he acted in multiple capacities, including lawyer, lobbyist, public speaker, media liaison, strategist, organizer, etc.
In 2016 and 2017, Nicholas worked with coalitions, stakeholders, and political candidates to structure Portland’s 100% Renewable Energy Policy, which unanimously passed through Portland City Council on the same day President Trump attempted to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accords. As a staff member for Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, he created the framework for the 100% Renewable Energy Policy, one of the most comprehensive, visionary, and equity-focused resolutions in the history of Portland City Council. Notably, the development of this policy coincided with a campaign at the Oregon Public Utility Commission to defeat Portland General Electric’s plans to build new gas-fired power plants to replace the retiring Boardman coal facility, demonstrating that even where local governments have limited direct authority, strong local policy combined with intelligent grassroots strategy can have large impacts. This policy framework has also impacted the way that state agencies view the future of renewable energy in Oregon.
Nicholas continues to work on 'no new fossil fuel infrastructure' and renewable energy policy projects and campaigns at the local, state, and national level.