Author

Sarah Vogelsong

Sarah Vogelsong

Sarah is the Mercury's environment and energy reporter, covering everything from utility regulation to sea level rise. Originally from McLean, she has spent over a decade in journalism and academic publishing. She previously worked as a staff reporter for Chesapeake Bay Journal, the Progress-Index and the Caroline Progress, and her work has been twice honored by the Virginia Press Association as "Best in Show" for online writing. She was chosen for the 2020 cohort of the Columbia Energy Journalism Institute and is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. Contact her at [email protected]

Canadian and western wildfires bring hazardous smoke to Virginia

By: - July 21, 2021

Massive wildfires near the Ontario-Minnesota border as well as blazes farther west in Canada and the United States are bringing smoke throughout Virginia, causing state officials to issue a health alert Wednesday morning due to high levels of particulate matter.  “It’s basically all over the state at this point,” said Virginia Department of Environmental Quality […]

Livestock are a major part of Virginia agriculture. But there are fewer and fewer vets for farm animals.

By: - July 13, 2021

For many years, Buckingham County, home to tens of thousands of cows, goats, sheep and hogs, had no veterinarians devoted to treating livestock.  “There just was nobody in the county,” said Ivan Davis, a cattle operator and president of the Buckingham Farm Bureau. And, “when you need a vet, you need a vet.”  Today, Buckingham […]

Company exploring new gas pipeline in five central and eastern Va. counties

By: - July 9, 2021

A company that appears to be affiliated with efforts to build a large natural gas plant in Charles City County is exploring the possibility of constructing a gas pipeline through five central and eastern Virginia counties, according to letters sent to residents.  In the letters, Chickahominy Pipeline, LLC, requests landowners’ permission to enter their property […]

EPA recommends that Army Corps of Engineers not grant Mountain Valley Pipeline stream crossing permit

By: - July 8, 2021

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that the Army Corps of Engineers not grant Mountain Valley Pipeline a critical permit to cross several hundred streams in Virginia and West Virginia.  “EPA has identified a number of substantial concerns with the project as currently proposed, including whether all feasible avoidance and minimization measures have been […]

Helicopters, cash payments and a new public health lab: How state agencies propose spending Virginia’s rescue fund money

By: , , and - July 8, 2021

Virginia has $4.3 billion in federal aid to spend and no shortage of ideas. State agencies hoping to tap into American Rescue Plan funds have submitted wish lists that top more than $18 billion, floating proposals ranging from new helicopters for Virginia State Police to $1,000 cash payments for essential workers.  Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration […]

Researchers eye coal ash as a possible source of critical minerals — and Southwest Virginia jobs

By: - July 7, 2021

Coal as a source of power generation may be headed toward the dust heap of history, but its ashes are destined to be considerably longer-lived — and, some hope, could become a building block of tomorrow’s electricity and many other crucial products.  The byproducts of burning coal for electricity are a widely recognized environmental liability. […]

Army Corps of Engineers issues wetlands permit for massive Wegmans distribution center

By: - July 6, 2021

The Army Corps of Engineers has signed off on the construction of a massive Wegmans distribution facility on a site containing protected wetlands in Hanover County, angering residents who have been fighting the project for several years. Neighbors took particular umbrage at the corps’ decision late last month to issue the wetlands permit at the […]

Air Board pushes decision on Lambert compressor station permit to September following complaints

By: - July 3, 2021

The State Air Pollution Control Board has deferred consideration of a permit for a controversial compressor station in Pittsylvania County to September following complaints about the scheduling of a midday, midweek meeting in Richmond to consider the issue. “This provides the board with additional time to ensure a thorough review and full consideration of the […]

Potomac River Generating Station/Mirant power plant

Judge weighs manufacturers’ lawsuit to overturn Virginia carbon market regulation

By: - July 1, 2021

Despite Virginia’s participation in two carbon auctions netting the state almost $90 million, Virginia manufacturers are continuing to fight an environmental regulation outlining the carbon-trading program.  “This rule has been transformed completely, with a much higher price tag,” said Elizabeth Williamson, an attorney with Williams Mullen representing the Virginia Manufacturers Association, at a hearing before […]

Water board approves guard rails on coastal fill with new climate change regulations

By: - June 30, 2021

After major changes to an earlier proposal that sparked concern from environmental groups about the use of fill by coastal landowners facing sea level rise, the State Water Control Board approved new regulations incorporating climate change into the long-standing Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. “I have heard words like ‘effective compromise,’ ‘proper balance’ and ‘substance,’” said […]

Unlike some hunting dogs, ‘right to retrieve’ debate keeps on coming back 

By: - June 29, 2021

A unique Virginia law dating to 1938 that allows hunters to go on other landowners’ property without permission to retrieve hunting dogs continues to raise hackles throughout the eastern part of the state and could be put in jeopardy by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.  “Right to retrieve” has been causing strife for more […]

The Virginia House of Delegates Appropriations Committee convened June 23 in what may have been its last virtual meeting.

Governance via Zoom is coming to an end in Virginia. Should it?

By: and - June 28, 2021

For more than a year, policymakers across Virginia have been able to log on and conduct public business from whatever room, or car, they happen to be in. But public bodies will have to transition back to in-person meetings after June 30, the expiration date of the state of emergency Gov. Ralph Northam declared at […]