Doctoral Dissertation Research: Organizational, Community, and State Regulatory Characteristics Influence on Venting and Flaring Rates of Texas Gas Wells
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This project examines why some gas wells and operating companies vent and flare at a higher rate than others by testing hypotheses developed using the organizational political economy framework. Specifically, it analyzes how community, business, and state regulatory organizational characteristics at the branch plant (i.e., gas well) and central headquarters (i.e., operating company) level relate to Texas gas well flaring and venting rates in 2012. This project advances basic understandings of the way social organization influences industrial environmental pollution and waste of natural resources. The primary aim of this project is to assist business practitioners, state managers, and communities to better combat climate change, economic waste, and community health hazards by identifying the social structural factors related to venting and flaring practices in the natural gas production industry and making this information publicly available by publishing high-quality, mobile-friendly maps, presentations, and scientific and technical papers. Venting and flaring in the gas production industry are processes by which natural gas is extracted from a well and purposefully burned (i.e., flaring) or released or leaked into the air (i.e., venting), sometimes after first collecting the crude petroleum oil and associated gas extracted along with the natural gas. There is currently no systematic explanation for why some organizations in the natural gas production industry vent and flare natural gas at a higher rate than others. There is an urgent need to identify the social organizational structures associated with pollution and waste, so that organizations and public policies can be reorganized to better achieve environmental sustainability. This project will fill this need by testing several hypotheses developed using the organizational political economy of the environment framework. Hypotheses are tested by quantifying the relationship between Texas gas well venting and flaring rates in 2012, and organizational characteristics at the gas well and operating company level using multilevel statistical modeling. Statistical analysis will be conducted on a created dataset using Texas Railroad Commission, National Center for Charitable Statistics, United States Energy Information Administration, and United States Census Bureau data. Using the created dataset, this project will examine the characteristics of affected communities surrounding gas wells and develop high-quality, mobile-friendly maps of gas well venting and flaring rates and overlying business, community, and state regulatory organizational characteristics. By producing high quality maps, presentations, and papers, this project will increase public understanding of scientific knowledge regarding the relationship between social organizational structures and venting and flaring rates.