Michael Panfil

Lead Counsel and Director of Climate Risk Strategies


Michael Panfil is the Lead Counsel and Director of Climate Risk Strategies at Environmental Defense Fund, where he leads the development and implementation of climate risk management and resilience strategies. His work focuses on federal and state projects and cases aimed at reducing climate-destabilizing emissions and revealing the consequences of climate change across the U.S. economy. Michael engages before energy and financial regulators as well as before federal courts across the country to advance durable solutions and sustainable practices. Michael also researches and advances legal theory focused on the increasing impacts of climate change in the context of foundational and longstanding duties and obligations under law.

In addition to serving with Environmental Defense Fund, Michael is an Adjunct Professorial Lecturer at American University, Washington College of Law, where he teaches energy law. He also teaches at Howard University, School of Law, where he lectures on environmental law.


Prior to joining Environmental Defense Fund, Michael spent time with the White House, Council on Environmental Quality and United Nations. He is admitted to the New York State Bar and is a Vice Chair with the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources - Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Ecosystems Committee.


  • J.D. Columbia Law School, Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar
  • B.A. College of Wooster, Magna cum laude


Selected publications include:

  • Resilience and Private Law’s Duty to Adapt, North Carolina Law Review (Forthcoming 2022) (with Jim Rossi).
  • Disclosure of Climate-Related Financial Risk, N.Y.U. J. Legis. & Pub. Pol’y (Forthcoming 2021) (with Madison Condon, Sarah Ladin, Jack Lienke, and Alex Song).
  • Risk in the Electricity Sector: Legal Obligations to Advance Climate Resilience Planning by Electric Utilities, Environmental Law Review (2021) (with Romany Webb and Sarah Ladin).
  • Attleboro to EPSA: The Pace of Change and Evolving Jurisdictional Frameworks in the Electricity Sector, UCLA J. Envtl. law & Policy, 38(1) (2020).
  • Wholesale Electricity Market Principles, 9 Mich. J. Envtl. & Admin. L. 145 (2020) (with Rama Zakaria).

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