Graduation Date

Fall 12-17-2021

Grading Professor

Lylla Younes

Subject Concentration

Health & Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


As the birthplace of oil and gas, Pennsylvania is home to the highest number of orphaned abandoned oil and gas wells in the country — an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 dot the Keystone State, all remnants of a dying industry. These wells emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and have, for decades, caused alarm to hundreds of residents, documents obtained in a months-long capstone investigation show. The state is currently plugging 10 to 12 abandoned wells per year, on average, out of hundreds of thousands, in part because it has not collected enough in cleanup funds from producers to fund reclamation. According to dozens of interviews and analyses of both senate and house journal records and political donation records, the state's oil and gas industry has long lobbied to keep it this way. In this original capstone investigation, I explore how a legacy of corruption and conflicts of interest between state government and the fossil fuel industry has left Pennsylvania with a littering of dangerous wells and regulatory bodies with little in the way of resources to meaningfully address the problem any time soon. Full investigation available online here: password: aogs-carleton21



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.