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]y.com

With coal in crisis, will Virginia be saddled with millions in mine cleanup costs?

By: - July 24, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates King Coal’s decline, Virginia could be on the hook for millions in cleanup costs if an anticipated wave of bankruptcies destabilizes its bond pool system for managing the risks of company failures.  One of six states, all in or near the Appalachian basin, that allow coal companies to post partial […]

living shoreline

Virginia’s coast saw two to five times more nuisance floods in 2019 than the national average

By: - July 17, 2020

With sea level rise continuing to accelerate along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Virginia coastal communities in 2019 saw two to five times more nuisance flooding than the national average, a federal report released this week shows.  “Evidence of a rapid increase in sea level rise-related flooding started to emerge about two decades ago, and […]

electric vehicle charging station

Electric vehicle use is rising. But who should be at the wheel during the transition?

By: - July 16, 2020

With new laws that aim to reduce carbon output from power plants now in effect, Virginia officials are laying the groundwork to tackle a much more complicated source of emissions: vehicles. Almost half of the commonwealth’s carbon emissions can be traced back to transportation — trucks, airplanes and, of course, cars. But unlike the electric […]

State defends refusal to release poultry plant COVID-19 information

By: - July 10, 2020

The Virginia Department of Health defended its refusal to release information on COVID-19 outbreaks in poultry plants, saying the poultry plants don’t operate like long-term care facilities and the state has been able to identify cases among workers without having to notify the public. VDH previously cited a section of state code regarding privacy to […]

Virginia Supreme Court upholds decision blocking Walmart from electricity choice

By: - July 10, 2020

The Supreme Court of Virginia quashed Walmart’s effort to buy energy from companies other than state utilities Dominion and Appalachian Power Company Thursday when it upheld an earlier decision by the State Corporation Commission blocking such an attempt. “Despite its ostensible complexity, this case boils down to a simple conclusion: The commission believed that now […]

Virginia won’t release data on COVID-19 outbreaks at chicken plants, despite nursing home reversal

By: - July 9, 2020

Virginia is refusing to release information on COVID-19 outbreaks at poultry processing plants on the grounds of privacy concerns, despite a June decision to provide such data for long-term care facilities. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Mercury in June after Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration began releasing facility-specific data […]

What sank the Atlantic Coast Pipeline? It wasn’t just environmentalism.

By: - July 8, 2020

The news seemed to come out of nowhere. On a hot Sunday afternoon, Union Hill pastor Paul M. Wilson was sitting on his porch eating seafood when he got a call that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the 600-mile natural gas conduit that he and thousands of others in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina had […]

Dominion Energy's downtown Richmond building. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Dominion cancels Atlantic Coast Pipeline, announces sale of natural gas transmission and storage assets

By: - July 5, 2020

In a sharp pivot away from natural gas, Dominion Energy announced Sunday that it is canceling the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline and selling “substantially all” of its natural gas transmission and storage assets to a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate.  The decision follows six years of work developing the ACP, of which Dominion controls the majority share, […]

Regulators approve Dominion’s green energy plan but cut a mostly coal-fired plant from its portfolio

By: - July 2, 2020

State regulators on Thursday approved a proposal by Dominion Energy to sell customers exclusively renewable energy, a move that will largely trigger the closure of Virginia’s small renewable electricity market.  Despite sharp criticism from environmental and renewable energy groups as well as large companies like Walmart, the green tariff proposal, known as Rider TRG, was […]

They may sit on public land. But not all Confederate monuments are publicly owned.

By: - July 2, 2020

The statue came down quietly, in the early hours of a Tuesday morning in June.  The scene was decidedly anticlimactic. There were no cheering crowds. No charges of disorderly conduct or arrests. Instead, police and passersby simply stood and watched as a crew lifted down from its pedestal the bronze figure of the Confederate soldier […]

Chickahominy groundwater map

Over strong opposition, Water Control Board allows Chickahominy Power to tap into Potomac aquifer

By: - June 30, 2020

The State Water Control Board on Monday issued a groundwater withdrawal permit to one of two hotly contested natural gas plants planned by private developers in Charles City County, despite about 1,400 public comments opposing the approval. In a 6-0 vote, the board authorized the Chickahominy Power Station to withdraw 30 million gallons of groundwater […]

With Supreme Court case over, courts again weigh whether Atlantic Coast Pipeline is needed

By: - June 23, 2020

Last week, the Supreme Court handed a victory to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline when it ruled that the U.S. Forest Service had the authority to allow the project to cross beneath the Appalachian Trail.  But the end of that battle has seen the revival of another, more fundamental conflict: whether the pipeline really is needed. […]