Author

Sarah Vogelsong

Sarah Vogelsong

Sarah is Editor-in-Chief of the Mercury and previously its environment and energy reporter. She has worked for multiple Virginia and regional publications, including Chesapeake Bay Journal, The Progress-Index and The Caroline Progress. Her reporting has won awards from groups such as the Society of Environmental Journalists and Virginia Press Association, and she is an alumna of the Columbia Energy Journalism Initiative and Metcalf Institute Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. Contact her at [email protected]

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 […]

Dominion pushes back against SCC finding that two coal unit upgrades were imprudent

By: - August 27, 2019

A dissatisfied Dominion Energy is asking the State Corporation Commission to reconsider an earlier ruling that blocks the utility from passing on about $18 million in upgrade costs to customers. The petition for reconsideration, filed Friday, relates to Dominion’s Rider E, an extra charge that the utility is allowed to add to customers’ bills to […]

With climate change, outdoor workers ‘bear the brunt’ of rising temperatures

By: - August 27, 2019

The man who showed up to Dr. Janet Eddy’s mobile clinic was in his 40s. He had diabetes, but it was “well controlled,” she recalled, and he was healthy enough to put in a full day’s work as a landscaper. He also had a temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit — a full degree above the […]

Virginia releases final roadmap for cleaning up Chesapeake Bay by 2025

By: - August 23, 2019

Another small step for Virginia, another leap forward for the Chesapeake Bay. On Friday, Virginia, along with other states, released its final Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan, the roadmap for meeting its 2025 water quality goals for the bay. The new version, which incorporates comments from the Environmental Protection Agency and local and state stakeholders, […]

The State Corporation Commission

Renewable energy providers win skirmish against Dominion, but larger war drags on

By: - August 22, 2019

Two renewable energy providers whose attempts to sign up Dominion Energy customers were halted by the utility in July won a victory Wednesday when the State Corporation Commission ordered the company to begin processing the enrollments immediately. The order is the first decision by the commission in an ongoing battle between Dominion, Virginia’s largest regulated […]