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.

Download Thesis