Nya Jackson, Broadside Correspondent

With Virginia facing a deficit of $1.59 billion for the 2010-2011 biennial budget, one George Mason University organization alleged that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is wasting taxpayers’ money with “frivolous lawsuits.”

The Mason Environmental Action Group, or EAG, was referring to petitions the attorney general filed in federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. to block the Environmental Protection Agency from complying with a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The ruling allowed the agency to set limits for greenhouse gas pollution in order to protect public health under the Clean Air Act.

“Cuccinelli’s actions are a slap in the face to the thousands of people around Virginia that have been working for years to combat climate change,” said Jason Von-Kundra, physics major and co-chair of the EAG.

At a recent press conference, Cuccinelli said that the EPA was making its decisions based “on unreliable, unverifiable and doctored science in its bid to regulate greenhouse gases.”

Others disagreed. “Cuccinelli’s extreme claims are without warrant,” said atmospheric scientist Jennie Moody, research associate professor at the University of Virginia. “The public welfare is threatened by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.”

“If Jennie Moody and other scientists at the University of Virginia Department of Environmental Sciences, which runs the Virginia Climatology Office, believe the EPA’s ruling has us headed in the right direction, why is our attorney general filing lawsuits that will only serve to hold our state and our country back at a time when we desperately need to be moving forward?” said Von-Kundra.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, who supported the move, believed Cuccinelli was “acting in the best interests of the citizens of Virginia.” However, Colin Bennett of Mason’s Office of Sustainability agreed with Von-Kundra and said that Cuccinelli’s action was ill-advised.

“Rather than acting in the best interests of the citizens of Virginia, our attorney general seems to be acting in the best interest of his campaign contributors,” said Bennett.

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, some of the top contributors to Cuccinelli’s campaign are Dominion Power and Alpha Natural Resources, a coal mining company.

Over 15 Virginia university and college presidents, including Mason’s own Alan Merten, have signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment to pursue climate neutrality at their respective schools.

To learn more about Mason’s commitment to climate neutrality, please visit www.green.gmu.edu.