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VCPC Student Sees Possibilities in Pollution

Victor Unnone.

Victor Unnone.

Victor Unnone.

By Chris Patrick, staff writer

Growing up fishing and hiking in the mountains of West Virginia, Victor Unnone III remembers always being aware of environmental issues, especially those centered on coal production. He recalls pollution limiting the number of caught fish he could eat and stumbling upon streams contaminated by runoff.

Because of this awareness—and a high school stint in a law firm—Unnone decided to pursue environmental law.

“Seeing the environmental issues and what pollution had done, I really want to make a difference and affect the environment in a positive way through the legal world,” Unnone says. He’s currently in his second year at William & Mary Law School and a student in the Virginia Coastal Policy Center (VCPC).

VCPC is one the reasons Unnone wanted to go to William & Mary for law school in the first place. With VCPC, he’ll be working on the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Midpoint Assessment.

TMDL is the amount of pollutants that can enter Chesapeake Bay while maintaining healthy water quality. In the project, Unnone will look at who is legally responsible for addressing some of the issues related to pollutants in Chesapeake Bay.

“I’m really excited,” says Unnone about the project. He also says he’s already learning a lot with VCPC.

“I kind of knew coming in how big a deal climate change was,” he says. “But to hear firsthand from some of the experts that work in that field, the impact it has in this area is much greater than maybe I’d realized.”

Unnone describes the climate change issues he’s learning about as “unsettling” but sees potential in the problems.

“There’s a lot of opportunity, a lot of areas that I can go into to make an impact.” After graduation, Unnone would like to work in environmental law with the government.

Last year, Unnone worked in the Environmental Division for the North Carolina Department of Justice. In 2014, he received his bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University with a major in history and minor in biology.

An extension partner of Virginia Sea Grant, VCPC at William & Mary Law School provides policy and legal analysis to its partners on coastal resource and community issues in its mission to educate and train the future lawyers and leaders of tomorrow.