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 and previously worked as a staff reporter for Chesapeake Bay Journal, the Progress-Index and the Caroline Progress. She is the recipient of a first place award for explanatory reporting from the Society of Environmental Journalists and has twice been 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 Initiative and is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. Contact her at [email protected]

In Southwest Virginia, aging wastewater systems pose big problems for cash-strapped communities

By: - October 15, 2020

Southwest Virginians have long looked beneath the surface of the rugged coalfield region for wealth and opportunity. But just below the asphalt and concrete of the communities that dot its ridges and valleys, the area’s aging and dilapidated wastewater systems are draining the coffers of localities already strapped for cash.  Across Virginia, water and wastewater […]

A national report says Virginia is failing in climate change education. State officials dispute that.

By: and - October 13, 2020

A report by two major educational nonprofits released last week on how states’ science standards for public schools handle climate change gave Virginia a failing grade, citing  “abysmal scores across the board.”  “Humanity’s impact is downplayed in the standards and is obfuscated by saying ‘natural’ causes of climate change and ‘chemicals’ being released into the […]

Manufacturers seek to block Virginia from joining carbon market in lawsuit

By: - October 9, 2020

The Virginia Manufacturers Association is suing Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality and State Air Pollution Control Board over the state’s revision of regulations that will allow it to join a regional cap-and-invest market for carbon. The suit, filed in Richmond Circuit Court Oct. 2, says DEQ followed an incorrect process in revising an existing carbon […]

Lack of local authority hampering Virginia cities’ clean energy efforts, report finds

By: - October 8, 2020

A legal principle embraced by Virginia that strictly curtails local powers is hampering cities from making progress on clean energy goals, a report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy found.  As a Dillon rule state — instead of a “home rule” one — Virginia bars cities and counties from exercising any powers not […]

Virginia regulators accused of slow-walking new turbidity standard

By: - October 2, 2020

As work on Mountain Valley Pipeline remains stalled, state officials are also moving at a sluggish pace to develop a standard that would help Virginia regulate muddied waters like those that have dogged the project. “My recollection is that this was first requested by the board about 18 months ago,” State Water Control Board member […]

The State Corporation Commission

SCC denies Northam’s request to again extend utility disconnection ban

By: - October 1, 2020

The State Corporation Commission on Thursday denied a request by Gov. Ralph Northam to extend the utility disconnection moratorium to Dec. 1, citing a prior order that explicitly said the body “will not extend the moratorium beyond October 5, 2020.” The decision came hours after Northam sent a letter to the commission asking it for […]

Relief is coming for Virginia fisheries, although payments likely won’t be large

By: - September 29, 2020

Fisheries managers are close to being able to roll out relief for Virginia’s hard-hit fishing industries, although a small federal allocation to the commonwealth means payments aren’t likely to be large, Virginia Marine Resources Commission officials said Tuesday morning.  “Because there was so little funding and such great economic damage, the idea of sort of […]

Lawmakers expanded school districts’ ability to go solar. But in Southwest Virginia, a utility contract is getting in the way.

By: - September 29, 2020

With school districts bracing for slashed budgets as the COVID-19 pandemic drags beyond its sixth month, there’s one bright spot on the horizon: the sun. No, literally, the sun.  In Virginia, 2020 has been a banner year for school solar. The commonwealth broke into the top 10 ranking of states with the most solar installed […]

Virginia lawmakers weigh a $500 bonus for cops, expanded eviction protections and a lifeline for struggling schools

By: , and - September 26, 2020

House and Senate budget writers presented their proposed amendments to Gov. Ralph Northam’s retooled spending plan Friday. Here’s a first look at where the two chambers landed on funding for schools, criminal justice reform, evictions and past-due utility bills. The legislation is on its way to the floor of each chamber for an initial vote […]

As regulators weight rate hike for Appalachian Power, years of legislative intervention have complicated the task

By: - September 24, 2020

On Friday, after nearly a week of hearings that involved thousands of pages of filings from parties ranging from Attorney General Mark Herring’s office to the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Virginia regulators began deliberations about whether Appalachian Power should be able to raise its electric rates to increase its revenues by roughly $65 million. All […]

Air Board beefs up public notice requirements for new fossil fuel plants

By: - September 18, 2020

The Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board voted Thursday to expand public notification requirements for applications to construct or make major changes to certain fossil fuel plants or natural gas compressor stations. The regulatory changes were the product of legislation sponsored by Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, during the 2020 regular section as a result of […]

Senate approves 12-month utility debt repayment plans with bipartisan support

By: - September 16, 2020

The Virginia Senate passed legislation Wednesday that will require all utilities except those controlled by municipal authorities to offer 12-month payment plans to residential customers who have been unable to pay their bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The measure passed 24-12, garnering support from four Republicans. All Democrats except Sen. Creigh Deeds of Bath […]