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]

The smooth coneflower makes a comeback

By: - June 23, 2021

The smooth coneflower, a droopy, lavender-pink flower whose petals fall away from its head like a skimpy skirt, has a tendency to look like it’s on death’s doorstep.  For years that wasn’t far from the truth: In 1992, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found only 21 populations of the flower (Echinacea laevigata) still existed […]

Virginia’s oyster industry squeaks through the pandemic

By: - June 23, 2021

Don’t break out the champagne to go with those oysters — at least not just yet.  Virginia’s oyster industry, the largest on the East Coast, has survived the pandemic, but growers and producers throughout the commonwealth’s eight oyster regions are still facing a long road to recovery, industry representatives said.  After decades of overharvesting throughout […]

A quarter of Virginia’s waste continues to come from out of state

By: - June 21, 2021

A quarter of all solid waste received in Virginia in 2020 came from out of state, the annual waste management report from the Department of Environmental Quality released last week shows.  Of the approximately 22.5 million tons of solid waste that facilities in the commonwealth handled during the calendar year, about 5.7 million tons came […]

New mapping tool aims to clarify Virginia environmental justice debates

By: - June 16, 2021

Amid persistent conflicts over what communities should be considered “environmental justice” communities when state officials weigh whether to grant air, water or waste pollution permits, a new interactive map of Virginia aims to identify hotspots where residents are facing disproportionate pollution and socioeconomic burdens.  “Policymakers are not good at responding to what they see as […]

For Virginia, adapting to sea level rise starts with choosing a curve

By: - June 15, 2021

In a warming world of rapidly rising waters, there are at least nine possibilities for what tomorrow will look like at Sewells Point in Norfolk.  All agree that by 2050 the sea will have overtaken more of the land than today. But by how much — half a foot, more than three feet or somewhere […]

New federal agreement aims to accelerate offshore wind in Virginia and N.C.

By: - June 14, 2021

A new federal agreement that aims to speed up review of offshore wind projects in federal waters will initially focus on the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project being developed by Dominion Energy off the coast of Virginia Beach and the Kitty Hawk project off North Carolina.  In a release from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office, Virginia […]

Despite lawmakers lifting caps on school and government solar, COVID-19 slowed growth

By: - June 11, 2021

POWHATAN — More than a year after the dozens of solar panels that blanket the roofs of Powhatan Elementary and Powhatan Middle School hummed to life, state and county officials finally cut the ribbon on the project.  “In 2020, when the General Assembly passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, this is what we were forecasting,” […]

New study estimates 485 Virginians died prematurely in 2016 as a result of transportation emissions

By: - June 10, 2021

A study by researchers from the University of North Carolina and Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health released this week calculated that 485 premature deaths in Virginia in 2016 were due to ozone and fine particulate matter emitted by cars, trucks and buses within the region.  Of those deaths, the study estimates that […]

As 2025 deadline for Chesapeake Bay cleanup looms, Virginia zeroes in on agriculture

By: - June 8, 2021

On Holt Farm, the grass may literally be greener on the other side of the fence.  Woody Ward wasn’t expecting that. The farmer, who raises roughly 80 head of cattle as well as hay on his Albemarle County property, initially thought putting up fences around the three creeks that cut through his pastures would just […]

Astronaut Rickey Arnold sees Hurricane Florence from the ISS. Credit: NASA

The Atlantic hurricane season started Tuesday. Meteorologists say it’s likely to be another busy one. 

By: - June 4, 2021

Tuesday marked the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which federal meteorologists predict will be “above normal” in terms of storm activity, although not as intense as the 2020 season.  According to their forecasts, there’s a 60 percent probability that this year will see 13 to 20 named storms, of which about half will […]

Virginia pledges to reduce polluted runoff from state lands as part of Chesapeake Bay cleanup 

By: - June 3, 2021

Gov. Ralph Northam is looking to shed some pounds — 122,000 of nitrogen and 10,100 of phosphorus, to be exact.  The pledge, which came in the form of an executive directive signed by Northam Thursday morning, commits Virginia agencies and higher education institutions to a series of steps that aim to significantly reduce the amount […]

Dominion’s new offshore wind vessel will be named after an ancient Greek sea monster 

By: - June 1, 2021

Offshore wind energy is headed to the East Coast on the back of a monster famed for creating giant whirlpools to overturn ships. Charybdis will be the name given to the offshore wind installation vessel Dominion Energy is building in Texas, which will be used to construct not only Virginia’s proposed 2.6 gigawatt wind farm […]