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The Effects of Organizational, Community, and State Regulatory Characteristics on Texas Oil and Gas Extraction Facility Venting and Flaring Practices
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Why do some companies release more methane than others? Using a mixed methods approach, I explore this question by analyzing variation in Texas oil and gas extraction facility venting and flaring practices. The methane emissions from oil and gas venting and flaring contribute to global climate change, making the practice a growing concern. Using an open systems organizational theory approach, I develop a conceptual model to explain how organizational power relates to methane emissions from venting and flaring by the oil and gas extraction industry. I test the conceptual model with several sources of data and analyses. First, I analyze archival information to show how, due to direct involvement of powerful oil and gas companies, policy changed to increase the legal opportunities for companies to vent or flare gas. Second, drawing upon quantitative environmental justice research methods, I create a geographic information system to examine how community inequality is related to environmental inequality. Third, I analyze a zero-inflated negative binomial regression model that demonstrates that extreme venting and flaring is associated with low poverty, less politically organized, and predominately Hispanic neighborhoods. Finally, I explore the effects of the organizational characteristics of facilities, the companies that directly own them, and the political legal environment in which they are embedded on the environmental efficiency of facility operations through a clustered two-part hurdle regression model. I find subsidiary organizations are more prone to pollution because there is a liability firewall that protects ultimate parent companies from possible social repercussions. Findings suggest political and organizational power are key factors contributing to the environmental decisions of organizations. By enacting new state policy, methane emissions could be reduced.
Oil and Gas
Sociology of Organizations
Tragedy of the Commons
Willyard, Katherine Ann Calle (2019). The Effects of Organizational, Community, and State Regulatory Characteristics on Texas Oil and Gas Extraction Facility Venting and Flaring Practices. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from