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]

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. […]

Virginia’s national parks need more than $1 billion in maintenance. Congress may finally be funding them.

By: - June 19, 2020

Even in car-clogged Northern Virginia, nothing stops traffic like a 10-foot-deep sinkhole. And that’s exactly what happened — twice — last spring on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, one of Virginia’s most visible national parks, after a culvert pipe beneath the road failed.  Today, the parkway, whose terminus lies at George Washington’s historic Mount Vernon […]

After a less rainy spring, the Chesapeake Bay may see smaller dead zone than normal

By: - June 18, 2020

Thanks to a less rainy spring, the Chesapeake Bay’s “dead zone” is likely to be slightly smaller this summer than normal, though it will still be bigger than long-term targets for the nation’s largest estuary, scientists announced Wednesday.  Ecologically, a dead zone is part of a body of water that is unable to sustain plant […]

As Supreme Court hands win to Atlantic Coast Pipeline, other hurdles remain for project

By: - June 15, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 600-mile natural gas pipeline being built by utility heavyweights Dominion Energy and Duke Energy, can cross beneath the Appalachian Trail in Virginia’s George Washington National Forest. But the 7-2 decision, penned by Justice Clarence Thomas with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena […]

The State Corporation Commission

State Corporation Commission extends utility disconnection ban to Aug. 31

By: - June 12, 2020

The State Corporation Commission on Friday extended a mandatory moratorium on the disconnection of utility services due to nonpayment of bills until Aug. 31 in order “to allow time for the General Assembly to meet in special session to address the COVID-19 crisis in a more comprehensive manner.” “Our purpose since our original order of […]

With ‘above-average’ season expected, state hurricane planning continues despite pandemic

By: - June 11, 2020

When Hurricane Irene bore down on Virginia and the Carolinas in August 2011, local, state and federal governments sprang into action.  Then-Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency. Throughout the Hampton Roads region, localities, university campuses, medical facilities and military bases ordered voluntary or mandatory evacuations. Navy ships headed out to sea. Eighty emergency […]

Regulators open up applications for electricity aggregation experiment

By: - June 10, 2020

After a compromise struck late and quietly in the 2020 General Assembly, Virginia is embarking on a limited-scale experiment that will let some large corporate customers of Dominion Energy with multiple facilities in the commonwealth sidestep the requirement to buy electricity from the utility. On Tuesday afternoon, state regulators issued an order opening up the […]

The State Corporation Commission

Northam appoints first African American judge to State Corporation Commission

By: - June 9, 2020

Over four months after Judge Patricia West’s term expired, leaving the three-member State Corporation Commission short of one commissioner, Gov. Ralph Northam has appointed Jehmal Hudson to fill the vacant seat. The vice president of government affairs for the National Hydropower Association and a previous director of government affairs for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, […]

Should it stay or should it go? Little consensus on utility disconnection ban

By: - June 8, 2020

If state regulators were hoping to get clarity from utilities and the public on whether to extend Virginia’s moratorium on service disconnections due to non-payment of bills, they may be sorely disappointed. Keep the moratorium mandatory? Allow utilities flexibility to impose measures as needed? Get rid of the ban entirely?  Little consensus has emerged from […]

In Virginia’s Confederate statue debate, change came slowly — then all at once

By: , , and - June 5, 2020

During a history discussion at a book festival in Charlottesville eight years ago, a local official floated an idea that, at the time, seemed shocking. After a speech by historian Edward Ayers, then-City Councilor Kristin Szakos asked if it was time to start talking about removing Confederate statues or balancing out the message they represent. […]

Virginia African American leaders respond to four days of protests

By: - June 3, 2020

After four days of protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police that have rocked Virginia and the nation, numerous African American leaders from throughout the state joined Gov. Ralph Northam Tuesday afternoon to address the commonwealth on issues the governor called “much more fundamental” than the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are excerpts of […]