The significance of politics and power dynamics has long been recognised in environmental assessment (EA) research, but there has not been sustained attention to power, either theoretically or empirically. The aim of this special issue is to encourage the EA community to engage more consistently with the issue of power. The introduction represents a ground-clearing exercise intended to clarify the terms of the debate about power in the EA field, and to contribute to the development of a research agenda. Research trends in the field are outlined, and potential analytic and normative lines of inquiry are identified. The contributions to this special issue represent contrasting conceptual and methodological approaches that navigate the analytical and normative terrain of power dynamics in EA. Together, they demonstrate that power cannot be removed from EA policy or practices, and is a necessary research focus for the development of the field.