A Quantitative Analysis of Environmental Inequality in Houston, Texas
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Drawing on concepts of disproportionality and privileged access to guide the research, this project explores the nature of environmental inequality in the Houston-Sugarland-Baytown Metropolitan Statistical Area. Using pollution data from the 2015 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), sociodemographic data from 2015 American Communities Survey Estimates and distance based methods, this project addresses what groups are more likely to experience heightened levels of toxic releases from TRI sites. Specific variables examined include tract-level racial/ethnic composition, percent non-native, and percent below the poverty level. Segregation variables in this project include a tract-level Multigroup entropy index, Hispanic-white dissimilarity index, and black-white dissimilarity index. Moderating variables include tract level median home value and percent within the manufacturing industry, while population total per tract serves as a control variable in OLS and geographically weighted regression modelling. Findings highlight the impact spatial data have on analysis as well as methodological challenges caused by disproportionality in pollution data. Additionally, results regarding exposure to point-source pollution from TRI sites indicate that Hispanic and white groups were more likely to experience environmental inequality via residential proximity, suggesting that the burden of environmental inequality may be different in urban areas with a majority-minority population such as the Houston-Sugarland-Baytown MSA.