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VCPC Researches Impact of Sealants on Chesapeake Bay

This Spring, a VCPC student is researching the impacts of coal tar sealants on the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

By Tess Mackey, Virginia Sea Grant Correspondent

Hannah Needleman. ©VCPC

Hannah Needleman. ©VCPC

A new class of William & Mary law students has joined the Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic (VCPC). These students will conduct legal and policy analysis for coastal communities and participate in state-level policy meetings. This week, we’re highlighting VCPC students and the coastal policy questions they’ve been tackling this semester.

Hannah Needleman credits her passion for environmental issues to an undergraduate study abroad program in Kenya, where she independently researched the ecology of East African savannas. During her study, which involved looking at interactions between humans and wildlife in the area, Needleman became interested in looking at these issues holistically and “not just under the microscope.” This semester as a student in the Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic (VCPC), she will study the intersection between science and law a little closer to home.

Needleman will work on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, a tri-state legislative consortium that brings together policymakers from Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania to combine efforts to conserve the Bay. She will research the impacts of coal tar sealants, which are used on impervious surfaces like roadways and parking lots, on the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Her goal is to examine the significance of the problem and whether future action is an option for the Commission to consider.

“It’s a huge, intimate web that I’m going to try and unweave,” she says.

Needleman completed her undergraduate studies in her home state at the University of Florida. In addition to her studies in Kenya, she studied law and policy in Rome, Italy. Needleman is in her second year at William & Mary’s Law School, where she writes for the Journal of Women and the Law and works with the Public Service Fund. This summer she will be working in Washington, D.C. at the Environmental Protection Agency.

The VCPC is an ongoing collaboration between the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Virginia Sea Grant, and William & Mary Law School. It provides science-based legal and policy analysis of critical and coastal management issues to state and local governments and educates the Virginia policymaking, non-profit, legal, and business communities about these subjects.