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]

Pawpaws may become Virginia’s official state fruit. What’s behind their rise in popularity?

By: - January 14, 2020

Appalachian banana. Hillybilly mango. Quaker delight.  Call the pawpaw by any name you like, but if one House of Delegates member has her way, make sure you also call it Virginia’s state fruit. Native to Virginia and growing mainly in forests, pawpaws have been enjoying an unexpected moment in the sun. Cidermakers and wineries have […]

Green New Deal rally

General Assembly will decide whether to build environmental justice into Virginia law

By: - January 13, 2020

Two years after Virginia established its first formal advisory body on environmental justice, legislators will weigh several bills proposing to weave the principle into the daily workings of state governance. “Environmental justice isn’t just theoretical. It actually happens all the time,” said Del. Mark Keam, D-Fairfax, who has put forward one bill making an advisory […]

On environment, lawmakers to grapple with everything from small fish to global shifts

By: - January 9, 2020

As if they didn’t have enough on their plates with energy legislation, lawmakers this session are set to consider a vast array of environmental bills, ranging from small fish (menhaden) to problems perplexing leaders worldwide (climate change). What unified policies, if any, will emerge from this pastiche of concerns and proposals is largely unclear, as […]

Federal court overturns Union Hill compressor station permit

By: - January 7, 2020

Calling Virginia’s review of a controversial compressor station in the historic Buckingham County freedmen’s community of Union Hill “arbitrary and capricious,” a federal court on Tuesday stripped the facility of its permit and ordered the State Air Pollution Control Board to reconsider the case. The decision is the latest blow to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline […]

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 […]