Tomás Carbonell ’02 plays an important role in the well-being of our environment. While many people are satisfied with turning off the lights upon leaving a room, or taking the time to separate recyclables into the proper bins, Carbonell’s position with the Washington, D.C. office of the Environmental Defense Fund puts him on the front lines of clean air legislation.
As an attorney focusing on domestic climate change and clean air matters, Carbonell’s responsibilities include defending Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actions, preparing and filing administrative petitions, and researching and drafting white papers.
“I derive satisfaction from working at the cutting edge of an important and challenging public policy program, and from applying a number of disciplinary tools – including law, economics, and science – to achieve progress,” Carbonell said.
Carbonell’s interest in environmental issues began early in his NC State career. Initially enrolled in a traditional engineering major, Carbonell followed his mentors’ advice and pursued dual degrees in engineering and social sciences. This path landed him an internship with the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), which fueled his passion for economics and environmental science and policy. As a result of his internship experience with CIEL, Carbonell attended the seventh Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Morocco.
Upon graduation from NC State, Carbonell served as a volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity, facilitating volunteer team assignments in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. His international travels continued throughout Carbonell’s tenure as a graduate student at Oxford; he visited Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Greece.
Carbonell returned to the United States to pursue his law degree at Yale, which he completed in 2008. The tools that Carbonell acquired through his studies at NC State, Oxford, and Yale made him a perfect fit for Van Ness Feldman. There he served as an associate specializing in issues such as climate change, air pollution regulation, clean energy, and electricity regulation, before accepting his current position with the Environmental Defense Fund in 2012.
Carbonell has remained connected to NC State and the Park Scholarships program by serving as a Park Scholarships Ambassador and Selection Committee member. He continues to meet with students who seek him out for advice on graduate school and scholarship application processes.
“My experiences as an undergraduate at NC State and as a Park Scholar were foundational for my work today,” Carbonell said. “The kind of intense multidisciplinary education I received at NC State, through which I obtained training both in engineering and the social sciences, is really integral to my day-to-day work as an environmental attorney. In addition, I don’t think I would have pursued my present career were it not for the wise counsel and attention I received from mentors among the faculty at NC State, as well as the relationships I made with other dynamic students at the university.”
Story by Chad Smith