Caylee Jean Hong

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Berkeley, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10222

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Hong, Caylee (California, Berkeley, U. of) "Orphaned Wells: The Impact of Corporate Bankruptcy on Oil and Gas Infrastructures and Municipal Futures in California"

Mass bankruptcies of energy companies have ‘orphaned’ thousands of oil and gas wells across the United States in recent years. In 2021, these bankruptcies are expected to increase dramatically. Without solvent owners to plug and decommission them, such wells will add to the already-sprawling subterranean network of abandoned infrastructures. Oil and gas wells in cities are especially prone to abandonment, exposing residents to toxins, redevelopment challenges, political and social conflicts, and exorbitant cleanup liabilities. This dissertation project investigates the impacts of corporate insolvencies on oil and gas-producing cities. Over twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in Long Beach and Los Angeles, California, I will accompany diverse urban stakeholders such as frontline community groups, environmental justice organizations, city officials, and industry representatives as they navigate corporate bankruptcies, oil and gas extraction, and the environmental and financial futures of their cities.