In order to combat the current climate crisis, the shift away from fossil fuels is already beginning. According to research, half of the world’s fossil fuel assets are projected to become worthless by 2036. Based on these predictions, we will begin to see mass closures within the carbon industry, and those countries which are slow to decarbonize will suffer. With this fate in sight, comes the responsibility to proactively envision what a post-fossil fuel future could look like.
If we look to the coal industry as a precedent, we see a massive problem of abandoned coal power plants which are public health hazards and eye sores for the communities in which they inhabit. The majority of these plants do not have redevelopment plans. With peak oil demand predicted to occur around 2026, this fate is near in sight for the oil industry. The goal of this thesis is to design a post-carbon transition framework for the oil industry to avoid this same abandonment problem that we see within the coal industry. The PBF Chalmette Refinery will be used as a case study, however, the strategies implemented on this site are intended to be reimplemented across the many other petrochemical industry sites along Cancer Alley.
Due to the current economic reliance on the oil industry, Southeast Louisiana is at high risk of economic decline during the net zero transition. Because of this, it is important to plan for a transition to a new form of productivity which relies on abundant natural resources. However, a post-fossil fuel future must be analyzed holistically by addressing the social and ecological issues in addition to the economic. This means having an awareness of the public health and environmental crises caused by the petrochemical industry and actively reincorporating communities and their landscapes into this new form of productivity.