Unequal exposure to industrial activity (and the associated environmental harms) is a well-studied phenomenon within the environmental inequality literature, yet little has been written about children and oil and gas development. In this paper, I aim to determine whether certain school-level characteristics make a school more likely to be located near oil and gas wells. I focus on Colorado public schools, and utilize a combination of spatial and statistical methods. I begin by mapping all Colorado public schools and all oil and gas wells within the state and constructing buffers around each school (at 2,500 and 5,000 feet). I then utilize logistic regression to determine which school-level characteristics increase the likelihood of having at least one well in each of the buffer zones. Percentage of Hispanic and Latino students and a history of poor academic performance increased the likelihood of a school being situated near oil and gas drilling, while a higher percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunch (a proxy for socioeconomic status) decreased this likelihood. This research has implications for Colorado setback policies.
M.A. in Sociology
University of Colorado Boulder
Lori Peek (Chair)
Lisa McDevitt was a member of the CU Boulder Sociology department from 2016 through 2019. Her research focused on hazards and disasters, as well as on the production and communication of scientific knowledge pertaining to environmental controversies. During her time at CU, Lisa received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to study the social implications of oil and gas development in Colorado, particularly as they relate to schoolchildren. She received her undergraduate degree in geology and sustainability studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Lisa opted to leave CU following the completion of her master’s degree, and is now pursuing a career in landscape reclamation and restoration.