Professor Dave Owen teaches courses in environmental, natural resources, water, and administrative law. His interest in the subject area began when he was about six years old and his parents denied him access to all television except for PBS wildlife specials. He then became inordinately interested in poachers. He went on to study geology in college, primarily because the labs were outside, and became an environmental consultant. During one hot summer day of hazardous waste site sampling, while sweating miserably in a Tyvek suit and inhaling aniline fumes, he decided graduate school sounded like a nice idea. So he became an environmental lawyer. He went to Berkeley Law, where he served as editor-in-chief of Ecology Law Quarterly and was selected for the Order of the Coif.
Professor Owen went on to clerk at federal district court and then work for a small law firm in San Francisco, where his practice focused primarily on water law. He worked on Colorado River allocation, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta litigation, and federal state disputes over the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, among other matters. In 2007, he began teaching at the University of Maine School of Law. He joined the Hastings faculty in 2015.
His research focuses primarily on water resource management, and some recent projects have addressed policies to expedite dam removals and hydropower upgrades, the intersection of groundwater use regulation and the takings clause, implementation of the Endangered Species Act, and the real-world impact of California’s public trust doctrine. Three of his articles have been recognized by his peers as among the top environmental law articles of their respective years, and he has presented three other articles at the Harvard-Stanford-Yale Junior Faculty Forum. He also contributes frequently to the Environmental Law Prof Blog.
In his spare time, Professor Owen was once a passably competent ultimate Frisbee player. Now he mostly runs on trails, a bit slower with each passing year. He lives in Albany with his wife Megan, a pediatric occupational therapist, his two children, and a dog named Steve.