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]

Menhaden regulations have plagued lawmakers for decades. Why were they able to find a fix this year?

By: - February 17, 2020

For decades, the small bony fish known as the menhaden has been a fixture on the Virginia General Assembly’s agenda. Every year, the drama has followed the same lines. Some lawmakers and environmentalists concerned about the health of the valuable fishery, the only one managed by the legislature rather than regulators, push to transfer its […]

Lawmakers’ split stance on energy competition reveals shifts in utility power

By: - February 13, 2020

Two measures to strengthen and expand Virginia’s renewable energy market passed by the House Tuesday signaled the emergence of cracks in the control long exerted by Dominion Energy over the state legislature, although the failure of both bills to reach the Senate floor indicates the monopoly utility remains influential.  Both of the bills had been […]

Virginia Clean Economy Act passes, as debate reveals deep partisan and regional divides

By: - February 11, 2020

After a marathon day of deliberations, both chambers of the Democrat-controlled General Assembly passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, an energy omnibus designed to get Virginia to zero-carbon emissions by 2050. The late party-line vote in the Senate, taken more than 10 hours after it first convened Tuesday, followed a lengthy debate that saw simmering […]

On eve of Clean Economy Act vote, a split emerges among Democrats

By: - February 10, 2020

The Virginia Clean Economy Act squeaked through its second reading in the House Monday, but a deepening split among Democrats over what the commonwealth’s policy should be when it comes to decarbonizing the energy sector may threaten its survival in a crucial vote Tuesday. Hanging over the schism is the Virginia Green New Deal, a […]

At Senate panel, a clash over the costs of shifting away from carbon

By: - February 9, 2020

The Virginia Clean Economy Act, the Democrats’ energy omnibus bill designed to achieve Gov. Ralph Northam’s goals of reducing Virginia’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050, sparked sharp questions from senators Sunday over how the costs of shifting away from carbon should be calculated. “You can’t do this stuff for free,” said a visibly irritated […]

After long delay, Democrats unveil Clean Economy Act energy omnibus

By: - February 6, 2020

After weeks of behind-the-scenes talks, Democratic lawmakers on Thursday night finally unveiled the details of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, a 75-page plan to get Virginia to zero carbon by 2050. The legislation was hailed by its sponsor, Del. Richard “Rip” Sullivan of Fairfax, as a “historic” step on energy policy. “This is an achievable […]

Bill to protect two Charles City gas plants from RGGI effects moving quietly through Senate

By: - February 6, 2020

Even before legislation to bring Virginia into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative comes before the Senate, a bill to protect two planned new natural gas plants from its effects is working its way through the chamber. The measure from Sen. Lionell Spruill, D-Chesapeake, would order the state to give carbon allowances to any new electric […]

Virginia Explained: What does it mean to be ‘in the public interest’? And what does that have to do with offshore wind?

By: - February 3, 2020

Q: What do 5,000 megawatts of solar and wind energy,1 the building of a new coal-fired power plant in Southwest Virginia,2 the creation of the Fort Monroe Authority3 and the development of intercity passenger rail4 have in common? A: All of them have at one time or another been found to be in the public interest […]

WestRock paper mill

Ongoing Potomac aquifer worries drive wave of new laws

By: - February 3, 2020

From banning hydraulic fracturing in the eastern part of the state to restricting the water reserves from which certain wells can draw, lawmakers in both parties and both chambers this session are moving to protect Virginia’s vulnerable Potomac aquifer. “It’s a significant issue,” Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford, told the Senate Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources […]

House puts carbon cap-and-trade gears in motion with RGGI bill vote

By: - January 31, 2020

After a few false starts, carbon cap-and-trade legislation began moving Thursday night with a favorable vote by the House Energy Subcommittee. Along party lines, the subcommittee passed House Majority Leader Charniele Herring’s Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act, which would bring Virginia into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. A 10-state compact that aims to […]

Senate subcommittee rejects energy competition proposals

By: - January 30, 2020

A Senate subcommittee on Wednesday voted down proposals to expand retail competition in Virginia’s energy markets. “We have traditionally avoided what I would call a partial deregulation,” said Sen. Tommy Norment, R-James City, one of the five senators on the newly formed energy subcommittee. “This is partial deregulation. … There is no way you will […]

Port of Va. to lease land to Danish wind company for East Coast hub

By: - January 28, 2020

With an eye to becoming the East Coast hub for the fledgling U.S. offshore wind industry, Virginia on Tuesday morning signed a deal with Danish wind energy giant Ørsted to lease land at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal for a staging and equipment site. “We have the potential to drive offshore wind for Virginia, but also […]