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]

With new Democratic leadership, General Assembly faces flood of energy proposals

By: - January 6, 2020

The week after elections swept Democrats to power in the General Assembly, environment and clean energy activists struggled to get their sea legs in the new ocean of possibilities that suddenly opened up before them. “I think everyone’s a little surprised by the power dynamics and the shift in the political calculus,” said Tim Cywinski, […]

Natural gas development is speeding up in Virginia. Legislators will have to square that with state climate goals.  

By: - December 30, 2019

This September, Gov. Ralph Northam took the stage at the inaugural Virginia Clean Energy Summit to announce he was committing the state to a carbon-free grid by 2050. “I always say that I want Virginia to be a welcoming place, with our lights on and our doors open,” he said. “Well, I also want those […]

The State Corporation Commission

More natural gas infrastructure proposed for second Charles City plant

By: - December 20, 2019

More natural gas infrastructure may be on the way in Virginia as plans move forward for a major new plant in Charles City County. No, not the Chickahominy Power Station. A different privately financed natural gas plant known as C4GT is driving a recent application by Virginia Natural Gas to construct 24 new miles of […]

Federal government orders Virginia menhaden fishery shut down

By: - December 19, 2019

There is no joy in Reedville — mighty Omega has struck out. On Thursday U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross ordered Virginia’s menhaden fishery, the largest on the East Coast, shut down after Reedville-based Omega Protein exceeded a fishing cap set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. “A moratorium on fishing for Atlantic menhaden […]

Cumberland landfill sign

Waste company slashes size of controversial Cumberland landfill

By: - December 16, 2019

The company behind a controversial mega-landfill in Cumberland County has eliminated one of two cells from its plans, reducing the area where waste can be dumped by more than half. The change “significantly reduces” the project’s impact on both wetlands and the surrounding communities, said Jay Smith, a spokesperson for the Green Ridge Recycling and […]

Amid chicken farming boom on Eastern Shore, state worries about water supply

By: - December 13, 2019

Which comes first, chicken farms or the public water supply? On Friday the state signaled it ranks a sustainable aquifer above concerns about poultry industry costs when the State Water Control Board unanimously voted to require 45 major Eastern Shore chicken farms to look at the shallow Columbia aquifer instead of only deep-water reserves as […]

Polls show Virginians support fuel emission cap-and-invest, but less than northern counterparts

By: - December 12, 2019

Most Virginians support a cap-and-invest strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, but support for the concept is lower and opposition higher in Virginia than in more northern states, polling released Wednesday found. The poll, which was conducted by nonpartisan nonprofit think tank MassINC, found that 60 percent of Virginians surveyed supported the Transportation […]

‘Historic’ Northam budget prioritizes Bay cleanup, clean energy and agency funding

By: - December 11, 2019

The Chesapeake Bay, clean energy and the Department of Environmental Quality are the big winners among environment and energy priorities in Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed 2020-22 budget.  The proposal, unveiled by Northam in Virginia Beach Wednesday, would commit a ‘historic’ $733 million in new funding to a variety of environment and energy aims. “Virginia is […]

Chickahominy groundwater map

DEQ says groundwater proposal for contested Chickahominy power plant will protect aquifer

By: - December 11, 2019

As Virginia tries to protect its eastern aquifers, the state Department of Environmental Quality is limiting the amount of groundwater that a controversial new natural gas plant can withdraw. Plans to build the Chickahominy Power Station, a privately financed generation facility that is expected to produce more power than Dominion’s largest fossil-fueled power plant, have […]

Virginia’s ‘cleanest-burning coal plant’ racks up third consent order for air pollution violations

By: - December 6, 2019

A Southwestern Virginia power plant praised by Dominion Energy as “one of the cleanest-burning coal plants in the country” has agreed to consent orders for violating state environmental laws more times than any other Dominion facility in Virginia since 2002, despite only being in operation seven years. This October, the utility signed a consent order […]

In Virginia, Union Hill and racial tensions have put environmental justice back on the map

By: - December 5, 2019

In 1991, a federal court in Virginia found that in King and Queen County, local landfill siting “had a disproportionate impact on black residents.” Three years later, a General Assembly-commissioned study concluded that statewide, minorities bore “a disproportionate share of any burdens or risks” related to living next to a landfill. They were unusual official […]

Will this be the year Virginia imposes a plastic bag tax?

By: - November 26, 2019

As localities all around the U.S. move to discourage the use of plastics, Virginia will once again mull taxing an item so common that most people encounter it every single day: the plastic bag. The debate isn’t new. This year’s General Assembly will mark the sixth time Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City, has proposed some […]