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Alumni Spotlight

UH Law Center graduate Burke ’12 recognized by national legal publication for clean energy efforts

Bethany Bonsu

Marcella Burke, a member of the University of Houston Law Center's Class of 2012.

Aug. 2, 2021 – The National Law Journal has named University of Houston Law Center alumna Marcella Burke ’12 to its fifth annual Energy and Environmental Trailblazers list, recognizing her initiative and drive to creatively utilize the environment to meet the public’s need for affordable, clean energy.

“I have always seen the energy industry as the number one lever out of poverty globally,” Burke stated. “Texans are proud of parks and wildlife, so the energy and environmental combination was just meant to be.”

One of only 27 energy and environmental law practitioners in the U.S. named as a Trailblazer, Burke specializes in energy and environmental issues and represents companies in regulatory and enforcement matters such as a toxic environment, conventional oil and gas problems, hydraulic fueling, and solar and offshore wind development.

“Tenacity and always questioning with a ‘what-if’ mentality has inspired me throughout my career, but in government especially,” Burke said. “I have held two senior positions in the federal government, and bringing a mentality of challenging the status quo to the federal government gave me an opportunity to provide a true public service and hopefully blaze trails in government efficiency and accountability.”

Burke served as senior counselor and deputy solicitor at the U.S. Department of the Interior and deputy general counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency before becoming partner at King & Spalding and developing a global Energy Transition Initiative focused on the ever-expanding market for diversified sources of clean energy.

The Trailblazer series was created by the National Law Journal to “pay tribute to some of the great minds impacting the crucial intersection of energy production and the environment,” and prompt an uprising in change among others. It highlighted Burke’s representation of the balance between clean energy and affordable energy and the essential production updates needed to make clean energy accessible to all.

“The industry is bending over backward to accommodate the public’s need for clean energy,” Burke said. “It’s a very exciting time for Texas and the energy market, and energy transition is the eye of the storm.”

As board member of the Houston ESG Council, fellow with the Center for Houston’s Future and an Ambassador for Sky High for Kids, which supports children undergoing treatment for cancer, her EHS practice is Chambers ranked as one of the leaders in environmental law.

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