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]

Regulator recommends approval of Dominion’s renewable rate scheme, with conditions

By: - April 24, 2020

A utility regulator is recommending that the State Corporation Commission approve a proposal by Dominion Energy to offer a renewable energy package opposed by a host of environmental and business groups — but only if Dominion can sign up at least 15,000 customers in six months. The report released Tuesday is only a recommendation by […]

The State Corporation Commission

Opponents worry pandemic will have ‘chilling effect’ on participation in gas expansion hearings

By: - April 23, 2020

With utility regulators’ schedules in flux due to COVID-19-related shutdowns, Virginia Natural Gas is pushing to keep a pipeline expansion case on its original timeline even as opponents argue the pandemic will have a “chilling effect” on public participation. On Tuesday, the utility, which serves about 300,000 customers in central and southeastern Virginia, asked the […]

A trash orgy, tanning and a hike with a ‘bearded geologist’: Virginia’s first Earth Day celebrations

By: - April 22, 2020

Earth Day’s 50th birthday is looking like a quiet one. Usually marked with trash pickups, drum circles and rallies, this year’s observances are considerably cramped by social distancing orders in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Celebrations across the state have been canceled or, in an ironic twist for a movement built around love […]

Besides cutting spending, Northam’s budget tackles a Hampton Roads seabird problem

By: - April 21, 2020

Gov. Ralph Northam’s 144 budget amendments aren’t just about cutting new spending as Virginia braces itself for at least $1 billion in revenue losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. They are also, in one instance, about birds — specifically, gull-billed terns — and a massive expansion of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel that has […]

The State Corporation Commission

Regulators approve major electric rate increase for Old Dominion Power

By: - April 16, 2020

The State Corporation Commission has approved a rate increase for the roughly 30,000 Southwest Virginians who get their electricity from Old Dominion Power, with the bump set to go into effect May 1.  In their April 6 order, regulators allowed the utility, which is the Virginia unit of Kentucky Utilities and the state’s smallest investor-owned […]

Virginia lawmakers agreed to join a regional carbon market. Here’s what happens next.

By: - April 14, 2020

A year after Republican resistance stalled Virginia’s effort to cap carbon emissions from large producers of the greenhouse gas at the forefront of climate change, the wheels are again in motion: Virginia is joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Joining the cap-and-invest program was one of Democrats’ top legislative priorities for the 2020 General Assembly […]

Confusion over park safety produces a patchwork of pandemic policies

By: - April 13, 2020

Even on a blustery day with winds gusting to more than 20 miles per hour, parks all around Richmond saw brisk traffic Friday as residents eager to escape the confines of their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic looked to nature for relief. To some, keeping parks open is a public necessity, providing a place to […]

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

After Clean Economy Act, Dominion says ‘significant build-out’ of new gas plants no longer viable

By: - April 10, 2020

Although it has not yet been signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam, the Virginia Clean Economy Act passed by the General Assembly this March has already spurred changes to the long-term plans of Dominion Energy, the state’s largest electric utility. On March 24, Dominion asked regulators to waive a requirement that as part of […]

At Virginia universities, a struggle to define ‘essential’ science

By: - April 8, 2020

Since 1955, scientists from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science have been trawling the waters of the Chesapeake Bay to find out just what lies beneath the surface. Croaker, blue catfish, spot, blue crab, the flat brown fish known as the hogchoker — all have passed through the nets of these fishers of knowledge. Over […]

Army Corps to convert Northern Va., Richmond and Hampton Roads convention centers to temporary hospitals

By: - April 6, 2020

The Army Corps of Engineers has received orders from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to convert three convention centers identified by Gov. Ralph Northam last week into temporary hospital facilities. The facilities — the Dulles Expo Center in Northern Virginia and the Richmond and Hampton Roads convention centers — will be able to provide beds […]

Virginia has bet big on oysters. But amid the pandemic, no one’s buying them.

By: - April 6, 2020

2020 was supposed to be Rogue Oysters’ year. The four-year-old enterprise founded by husband-wife duo Taryn Brice-Rowland and Aaron Rowland in the Northern Neck community of Lancaster had already taken a hit early in its life when record-breaking rains swept through Virginia in 2018, diluting the salty waters where the bivalve thrives and wiping out […]

Despite EPA decision, Virginia says polluters must ‘make every effort’ to comply with environmental regulations

By: - April 1, 2020

Virginia will not relax its enforcement of environmental regulations despite an announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week that it won’t impose civil penalties on polluting facilities that don’t comply with routine monitoring and reporting obligations during the coronavirus pandemic. “All regulated entities are expected to make every effort to comply with environmental […]