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]

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 […]

Facing backlash, Dominion says it’s willing to have coal plant removed from green energy package

By: - November 25, 2019

Amid complaints from businesses and environmental groups, Virginia’s largest utility said it would be willing to let regulators remove a Southwest Virginia power plant that relies almost entirely on coal from a renewable energy portfolio it is aiming to sell to environmentally conscious consumers. The Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center “is in fact one of […]

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

Regulators reject Dominion push to increase profits; ‘Customers won today.’

By: - November 21, 2019

State regulators denied Dominion’s request to increase the profits its shareholders can collect, saying in an order issued Thursday the proposal is neither reasonable nor consistent with the public interest. The investor-owned utility had asked the State Corporation Commission to increase its allowable rate of return on equity from 9.2 percent to 10.75 percent. As […]

Northam asks federal government to shut down Virginia’s menhaden fishery

By: - November 21, 2019

In an unusual step by a state executive, Gov. Ralph Northam has asked the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to shut down Virginia’s menhaden fishery after its main participant, Omega Protein, announced that it would exceed the federal cap limiting the taking of the small oily fish in the Chesapeake Bay. “Given these actions by an […]

Battery storage could be a key to cutting emissions. What’s Virginia doing about it?

By: - November 15, 2019

The age of the battery dawned with a dead frog, but its next chapter may be all about keeping one alive. That link isn’t as obscure as it might seem. The first frog, after all, was quite literal: in 1780, Italian scientist Luigi Galvani laid the groundwork for the creation of the battery when he […]

On second thought, court won’t overturn Jamestown transmission line permit

By: - November 11, 2019

A hotly opposed transmission line built by Dominion Energy across a historic stretch of the James River won’t be demolished after a federal judge charged with revisiting the project’s permit decided not to overturn it. “Since its installation, the project has become a crucial source of electricity in the area,” wrote Judge Royce Lamberth of […]

Freitas write-in ballot and pen

‘It’s a free pen’: In Culpeper, delegate’s write-in effort gets literal

By: - November 5, 2019

CULPEPER — Not everyone in Virginia’s 30th House District was voting for Nick Freitas, but everyone wanted a pen with his name on it. “It’s a free pen,” said Culpeper resident Stan Morford with a shrug as he and his wife went to cast a vote for “any Democrat” — which Freitas is not — […]