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]

Northam pledges $20 million to electric school bus purchases

By: - September 24, 2019

After deliberately evading federal emissions standards, Volkswagen was forced to pay out billions in compensation. Now Gov. Ralph Northam has pledged to put $20 million of Virginia’s portion of that settlement toward the purchase of zero-emission school buses. The new program, which will be run by the Department of Environmental Quality, will allow public school […]

Four things to know about Dominion’s massive wind farm proposal

By: - September 24, 2019

Dominion Energy announced last week it filed plans to build what would be the United States’ largest offshore wind farm, capable of producing 2,600 megawatts of energy, or enough to power 650,000 homes. The news was heralded by environmentalists as an important step in the state’s transition away from fossil fuels, one in line with […]

Caroline County Virginia soybean field

In farm bailout, southeastern counties reap rewards

By: - September 20, 2019

If granted three wishes, Virginia farmers hit hard by the China-U.S. trade war might ask first for good growing weather, second for an end to the yearlong conflict and third for an address in Southampton County or the city of Franklin. Why? Because farmers there are entitled to the highest payouts in the state under […]

The State Corporation Commission

Renewable energy providers cleared to operate in Virginia

By: - September 18, 2019

Two renewable energy providers will be allowed to operate in Virginia after the State Corporation Commission ruled Wednesday that they meet state standards for selling renewable energy and don’t need to measure up to more stringent benchmarks proposed by Dominion Energy, the commonwealth’s largest utility. The ruling means that Virginia consumers will continue to be […]

Northam calls for carbon-free electric grid by 2050

By: - September 17, 2019

In a surprise executive order Tuesday morning, Gov. Ralph Northam issued a sweeping directive committing Virginia to making its electric grid 100 percent carbon free by 2050. “Virginia’s policy structures have historically focused on the traditional power sector model of large, centralized power stations and conventional transmission and distribution infrastructure,” the text of the order […]

Dominion, Navy, Walmart and government groups spar over utility’s request to boost profits

By: - September 13, 2019

Over seven hours of testimony spanning two days, Virginia’s largest utility and a diverse array of consumer protection, business and government groups battled before the State Corporation Commission over whether Dominion Energy investors should get a bump in their guaranteed profits. The case, which Dominion attorney Joseph Reid noted had sparked “a lot of charged […]

Enviva Southampton biomass plant

DEQ calls for stricter pollution controls at Enviva wood pellet plant, but some environmentalists say enforcement is overdue

By: - September 12, 2019

FRANKLIN — In the old mill town of Franklin, the streets smell of gasoline and fast food, peanuts by the millions and wood — mostly wood. To some, it’s the smell of money, an indicator of the industry that keeps the local economy going. To others, it’s a reminder of the hazardous air pollution that […]

Potomac Yard, Alexandria, Virginia, 1980s

In Potomac Yard’s quest for smart growth, wetlands end up on the chopping block

By: - September 10, 2019

SANDSTON — A dozen people turned out to the State Water Control Board’s meeting Friday to voice their support for the destruction of an acre and a half of wetlands along the Potomac River in the name of environmental responsibility. Once, such an argument would have been unthinkable. But as the swelling urgency of climate […]

As cleanup deadline looms, Virginia mulls pushing Chesapeake Bay Act’s reach westward

By: - September 9, 2019

You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, the saying goes. But when it comes to persuading Virginia’s western localities to join Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts, it’s far less clear whether promises of water quality improvements will be enough to win over local officials wary of interfering with development and agriculture. “Anyone who’s not […]

Great Dismal Swamp cleanup complete, but Dorian flooding poses other pollution risks

By: - September 5, 2019

As a revitalized Hurricane Dorian continues its sweep up the East Coast, Virginians concerned about the environmental impacts of flooding can rest easy about at least one site: the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, where a Norfolk Southern train derailed in June, spilling 36 cars full of coal into the sensitive terrain. On Thursday, […]

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

Dominion earned $278 million more than permitted in 2018, regulators find

By: - August 29, 2019

Virginia’s two largest electric utilities earned $285 million more than they were allowed to last year, with the bulk of that — almost $278 million — taken in by Dominion Energy, the State Corporation Commission reported Thursday morning. The remaining $7 million was collected by Appalachian Power Company. In prior years, the commission had the […]

Federal agency reopens review of key permit for Mountain Valley Pipeline

By: - August 28, 2019

The federal agency tasked with overseeing natural gas pipeline construction reopened the review process Wednesday for a key permit underpinning the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline. In a letter dated Aug. 28, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that it will “reinitiate consultation” to assess the project’s impacts on four […]