Reckoning with Fossil Fuel

Jared Farmer

Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History

Project Start Date: 
July, 2020

Fossil fuel powered the making—now the unmaking—of the modern world. As the first fossil fuel state, Pennsylvania led the United States toward an energy-intensive economy, a technological pathway with planetary consequences. The purpose of this project is to perform site-specific historical accountings—and ethical reckonings—of coal, oil, and natural gas. Specifically, the project will result in two separate outputs:

1) “The Energies of Penn: A Historical Scorecard on Sustainability,” an executive report with data visualizations, to be released to the Penn community on Earth Day, 2023;

2) “America’s First Petrochemical Corridor,” a GIS-based website and accompanying encyclopedia covering the modern history of the lower Schuylkill River, including its legacy oil refineries and gas works, to be hosted by Penn Libraries as a resource for city planners, high school teachers, and local residents and activists.

Price Lab student researchers: Chelsea Chamberlain, Rachel Jessamy, Rebecca Redlich, Summer Thomas
Other undergraduate researchers: Yoo Do, Mikayla Golub, Lynn Larabi, Georgia Ray, Alex Worrall
Graduate student researchers: Molly Leech, Gustave Lester, Angus McLeod

This project has also received support from the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.



philadelphia refinery